The man who helped bring about a historic ‘Yes’ vote on gay marriage in Australia has called for Northern Ireland to follow suit.
Northern Ireland-born Tiernan Brady, director of Australians for Equality, which ran the successful campaign for same-sex marriage in Australia, said he felt a “pang of sadness” that LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex) people in the Province are “denied their equality”.
Australians voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage by 61.6% to 38.4% in a non-binding survey, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull commenting that it was time for Parliament to act on the wishes of the nation.
Mr Brady – originally from Northern Ireland, now living in the Republic – was speaking on Wednesday as news of the vote reached the UK.
He said: “Today is a joyful day. It is a day when the Australian people have said to their LGBTI family members, friends and neighbours that we are all one, and our laws must reflect that.
“But amidst the joy, I still feel a pang of sadness when I think of where I was born and raised in Fermanagh – and how LGBTI people there are still denied their equality.
“Just like Australia, the people of Northern Ireland share the same commitment to fairness and equality and that is reflected in every poll taken on the issue.
“Just like Australia, it has been the world of politics that is blocking the clear will of the people to treat LGBTI people equally.
“It is time our laws at home caught up with the values of our people. Everyone on our islands should have the right to the same aspirations and dignity as the rest of their family members and communities.”
In November 2015 a majority of MLAs in the Assembly voted to support gay marriage, but the measure was blocked by the DUP using a petition of concern.
Patrick Corrigan, of the Love Equality campaign in Northern Ireland, said: “We are delighted for all those couples (in Australia) who will be able to marry as soon as politicians follow through with legislation.
“Now, we want Northern Ireland to be next. As we move from devolved government to direct rule, we call on the Westminster government to introduce legislation as soon as possible to reflect the will of the people and of the Assembly, where there are clear majorities in favour of marriage equality.”