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LGBT Sector NI Joint Statement

A joint statement from The Rainbow Project, Cara-Friend, SAIL, Gender Jam NI and HereNI on the calls for a referendum on marriage equality by Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ivan Lewis MP.
After meeting today with Ivan Lewis MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the largest organisations supporting LGB&T communities in the region, outlined their opposition to Labour’s support for a referendum on marriage equality.
HereNI, Cara-Friend, The Rainbow Project, SAIL and Gender Jam NI are all opposed to securing the marriage rights of LGB&T people by putting them to a public vote.
Speaking after the meeting with the Shadow Secretary of State, the organisations issued a joint statement saying:
‘We greatly appreciate the time taken by the Shadow Secretary of State to meet with our sector this morning. We welcome any and all opportunities to speak with political leaders about the state of LGB&T equality in Northern Ireland and Ivan was very willing to listen to our objectives and concerns not only on marriage equality but on wider issues of homophobia, transphobia, health care provision and education. We hope to continue these engagements with Ivan and his party colleagues.
‘However, we fundamentally disagree with Labour’s suggestion that the on-going and unlawful denial of the right to marry for LGB&T people in Northern Ireland should or could be resolved by a public referendum.
‘Of course we were delighted to see the ‘yes’ victory in the Republic of Ireland and many of us were deeply involved with that campaign but it would be inappropriate to suggest that the referendum campaign could be replicated in the North.
‘We believe that the current patchwork of marriage laws across the UK is wrong and that it went wrong in Westminster. Not only did the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act create the untenable situation where some marriages are only recognised in some regions of the UK but it placed unacceptable burdens on trans individuals to seek the permission of their spouse in order to access legal recognition of their gender.
‘We want marriage equality to be a reality for everyone in the UK and we believe that, were a referendum to be called, equality would win, however it is wholly unacceptable to expect the LGB&T community in Northern Ireland, in the face of the most organised opposing forces in the UK, to secure a win in a referendum which would not be proposed in any other region of the UK.’

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