Amnesty fights globally for gay rights


Letter writer, Noel from Lisburn (May 25), feigns concern for my workload given Amnesty International’s call for civil marriage equality in Northern Ireland. He need not worry.

For decades, Amnesty has campaigned against the violence and discrimination so frequently endured by LGBTI people around the world. Colleagues recently risked their lives in Syria and Iraq documenting abuses by the likes of ISIS, which includes the brutal killing of gay men who fall foul of ISIS interpretation of religious scripture.

We know that discrimination can take different forms and is often reflected in how states deny LGBTI people many basic rights other people take for granted. One key example is access to civil marriage. Globally, Amnesty opposes discrimination in civil marriage laws on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The march for civil marriage equality in Belfast on Saturday 13 June (organised in partnership with NIC-ICTU and the Rainbow Project) aims to have the law changed here in line with the rest of the UK. As elsewhere, this would not affect the traditional religious definition of marriage, nor compel churches to conduct any weddings to which they object. It is about equality of provision of state-registered marriage, not what happens within the walls of any church.

On that basis, we hope that people of all faiths and politics or none will join with their neighbours to ask the Assembly to legislate in line with other parts of the UK, where civil marriage is available to same-sex couples and religious practice is protected.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director, Amnesty International