I have long been sceptical of the likelihood that the ECHR will intervene any time soon to introduce marriage equality in NI; it refused to intervene in a French case last year and most European jurisdictions still don't have marriage equality; in Eastern Europe, most still don't have any form of registered partnership. The UK Supreme Court might, although I'm not sure on what grounds.
We were only five votes short of a majority in favour of marriage equality in the NI Assembly last October (a private member's motion with no legal force, but it's the thought that counts). We'll almost certainly have an Assembly majority in place after the next set of elections, but then the DUP will, ironically, use the 'minority protection provisions' of the Good Friday Agreement to veto marriage equality, which they can do with only 28% of Assembly members blocking us.
At that point, I hope people in other parts of this so-called United Kingdom will give a little bit of assistance to those of us living in this political sewer. There is no reason why the Westminster government can't repatriate the power to make laws on marriage in Northern Ireland, and every reason why it should. The opposition is entirely on the Unionist side of the fence, so they have little grounds for complaint if the British government 'imposes' something that a majority of Northern Ireland's legislators have voted for anyway.
That which may pertain in Northern Ireland is troubling. One could find allowance of equal marriage in Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland but not the devolved Province of Northern Ireland. In addition it would appear that that would likely be the situation for some considerable time due to the cross party voting arrangements. Of particular note would be the contents of the Belfast Agreement and the role played by human rights (I claim no expertise on these).
I think that ths announcement is a bit ahead of itself - after all the bill hasn't even been introduced in Scotland let alone voted on and the England and Wales Bill still winding through the Commons.
I suspect that a key issue here is how autonmous the 'deciders' are; is the UK as regards devolved matters an assemblage of 3 (or 4 depending on the issues) separate compartments (i.e. federal for want of a better word). There are quite a few examples of countries where some subsections recognise same sex marriage (Brazil, Mexico, US and Canada prior to Parliament legislating).
Apart from the danger of going to early (which they seem to be falling into) I think there may be more chance of success with domestic courts than with the ECHR who will probably adhere to the margin of appreciation as in Schalk & Kopf(though it is probably unchartered and a little sui generis).
I do however think a prolonged discrepancy would be highly undesirable, especially as the Westminster is non-devolved and still the Pariament for the whole UK and the devolution settlement is based on human rights and non-discrimination. Ultimately it would be desirable for a way to be found to address the issue.
Godspeed, Ireland, to equality!
A most interesting submission from 'Changing Attitude, Ireland'. One hopes the politicians are listening to a voice of reason.
So would residents of NI be able to travel to the other parts of the UK, get married, and then return home and be able to enjoy the benefits of marriage?
David: the England & Wales bill provides that a same sex marriage contracted there will be treated as a civil partnership in NI.
"28.The Catholic Church's position is clear; it does not give recognition to any other
partnerships or legal unions as having an ethical or legal equivalence with marriage.
The Church opposes therefore a change in the definition of marriage to include
same-sex couples or other forms of relationship other than that of the relationship
between one woman and one man. We believe that it would be damaging to the
common good should civil law render same sex unions equivalent to marriage." - R.C. Bishops -
Presumably an "ethical or legal equivalence with marriage" - as far as the Irish R.C.Bishops are concerned - would include any conjugal LGBT or T. relationship, and presumes that they consider same-sex relationships outside the realm of allowable R.C. relationships.
This demonstrates the Catholic Church in Ireland - and presumably elsewhere - is implacable against LGBT people having any sort of monogamous, loving, and faithful relationships akin to marriage.
How does this fit with the modern understanding of the no-fault situation of sexual-orientation?
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