Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Féin’s leader in Northern Ireland, said that there is “no room for second class citizenship” while demanding marriage equality at the PinkNews Belfast Summer Reception on Thursday (June 20).
O’Neill called on politicians from across the divide to work together to bring Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK in terms of same-sex marriage.
Addressing her fellow members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) at the PinkNews reception, supported by Citi, Ulster Bank and charity partner The Rainbow Project, she said: “It doesn’t matter who you are, you’re elected to represent all people in society.
“The LGBT+ community is a valuable and integral part of our society and I’m determined to ensure that people are heard.
“I’m determined to ensure that you can enjoy the same rights, the same benefits that everybody else does. That’s not a privilege, that’s just your right.
“There’s absolutely no room for second class citizenship in our society.”
‘Political blockade’ to blame for equal marriage failure
Speaking in Stormont’s Great Hall, O’Neill acknowledged that there is a “political blockade” preventing LGBT+ equality in Northern Ireland.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has previously used a petition of concern to overturn a vote in favour of same-sex marriage. The issue is reportedly a large part of the impasse which has left Northern Ireland without a functioning government for more than two years.
“This blockade is not sustainable,” O’Neill said.
“It cannot continue and it will not continue. Sinn Féin will play no part in state sponsored discrimination.
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