Same-Sex Marriage And Abortion Laws To Be Considered For Northern Ireland

Thousands marched for same-sex marriage

Thousands marched for same-sex marriage

Under the terms of the agreement, both sides of the political divide - Unionists and Republicans - hold equal positions in power.

It all hinges on one thing: whether Northern Ireland restores a government by 21 October.

Mr Blackford, who leads the party in Westminster, said: "In the absence of a functioning Stormont Assembly, I'm proud the SNP has done our bit to support equal marriage and women's right to choose in Northern Ireland - and I'm pleased for all those who stand to benefit from having their human rights respected".

The matters of same-sex marriage and abortion were deemed to be a "devolved matter" in British Parliament, meaning it should be left up to Northern Ireland's Assembly to decide.

The House of Commons was discussing how to extend the Government's legal powers to keep the province running after its devolved government collapsed in January 2017.

The central objective of the bill itself was to remove from Mrs Bradley the obligation to call an Assembly election in the absence of devolution being restored in coming weeks.

MPs have voted in favour of amendments which could see the government liberalise abortion laws and extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland.

But it does not automatically change the law - the caveat is that it can only happen if Stormont hasn't been restored by 21 October.

However, it is not entirely clear what form that new abortion legislation will take.

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Mr MacNeil explained that his reasons for abstaining were around respecting the devolution settlement.

Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty UK hailed a "huge double-win for human rights in Northern Ireland".

The law on this issue should be a decision for the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives, not for MPs in Westminster to decide.

Tonight the Presbyterian Church in Ireland expressed "disappointment and regret" at the votes and urged the government to clarify how it would consult on the "sensitive and complex" issues before changing the law.

The other take is that this is the biggest step yet by Westminster when it comes to implementing direct rule in NI.

A spokesperson for Pro-life group Right To Life UK, Clare McCarthy said: "This amendment is an unconstitutional and disrespectful attempt to override devolution in Northern Ireland and to attempt to impose abortion on demand on the Northern Irish people".

"That is exactly what we are saying to our fellow United Kingdom citizens in Northern Ireland".

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: "Today is a good day for Northern Ireland and for our LGBT+ community".

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley and Prime Minister Theresa May abstained. "Society's laws may have changed but the law of God remains the same: to take the life of any person directly and intentionally is a grave sin and a awful crime".

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