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Alliance expresses concerns over referendum idea

April 29, 2015 2:34 PM

Paula BradshawSouth Belfast Westminster candidate Paula Bradshaw has said that while Alliance is open to the idea of a referendum on equal marriage, people's rights should not be subject to a vote.

The local Councillor added the Alliance Party had been positively engaging with the LGBT community consistently on this and other matters, unlike Sinn Fein who she accused of 'grandstanding' on the issue and failing to do any groundwork to convince people of the argument.

"Unlike others, Alliance is not interested in electioneering on this important subject. We have been engaging with the LGBT community consistently on this and other matters, and are aware of the sensitivities around this proposal. We are concerned this amounts to essentially putting the rights of LGBT people up for a public vote, which is potentially degrading.

"The ongoing issue in the Republic of Ireland is entirely different, as the Dáil has already voted on the issue but it needs a constitutional amendment to be delivered. However, we recognise the Assembly is making itself increasingly irrelevant and out of touch with public sentiment on equal marriage. But any referendum legislation would also be subject to the petition of concern mechanism in the Assembly and therefore due to opposition, this could be another exercise in raising false hope.

"Sinn Fein has continued to bring the issue to the Assembly without doing any groundwork to convince people of the argument. They have now raised the potential for a referendum without appearing to have consulted widely on the issue with other parties or the LGBT community. I believe this is unhelpful. Likewise, for Mike Nesbitt to equate having a referendum on the matter with discussions about reinstating the death penalty raises serious questions about his approach entirely.

"We need to create the space where people who hold different views on this can be convinced of the merits, while holding them to account in the meantime. Many of the biggest advocates of equal marriage began as vocal opponents to it.

"Alliance is committed to doing the hard work to actually deliver progress rather than grandstanding around it."

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