THE Alliance Party’s ruling Council has voted in favour of the introduction of same sex civil marriage.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the party said a motion was passed calling for “equal civil marriage with robust protection for faith groups”.
Party leader David Ford said they had consulted on the controvserial gay-marriage issue for months.
“Alliance has always stood for a progressive and equal society. Alliance will oppose any form of discrimination, whether it is based on age, race, disability, gender or sexual orientation,” he said.
“There are equality issues in allowing those in a same sex relationship to have only civil partnerships, which is seen as discrimatory. The motion also called for protection for faith groups, to ensure they are not forced to act contrary to their beliefs.
“Alliance is a democratic party, which is why we undertook a consultation process within our associations which lasted for several months.”
Deputy Leader Naomi Long MP added: “After listening to members, as well as from people who have corresponded with me, I believe that we have made the correct decision in supporting the extension of civil marriage provisions to same sex couples provided that robust protections are in place for faith groups who oppose these measures
“For me as a Christian and a liberal, I believe that equality and religious freedom are fundamental to a democratic society and both must be promoted and protected. I believe our motion reflects that reality.
“I acknowledge that there are still those who do not in conscience support same sex civil marriage, which is why our policy did provide robust protection for faith groups so they will not be forced to conduct same sex marriage ceremonies or to have them conducted on their premises.”