The two ground-breaking votes happened within 15 minute of each other; the House of Commons voted 383 to 73 in favour of extending same-sex marriage rights to Northern Ireland, and the extension of abortion rights was passed 332 to 99.
After a lifetime of injustice, the people of Northern Ireland look set to finally have equal rights to the rest of the UK. In a ground-breaking vote at Westminster yesterday, MP’s unanimously voted in favour of extending abortion and same-sex marriage rights that are already granted to England, Scotland and Wales.
It is currently illegal to have a same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, and women are denied the right to an abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger. But as of yesterday’s vote, change is FINALLY on the horizon.
Both votes were the culmination of impressive Labour MP’s who have fought ardently on these two pressing social issues. The government’s claim that only Northern Ireland have the right to make such changes was swiftly dismissed on the grounds of Northern Ireland’s defunct government.
Labour MP Stella Creasy, who lead the campaign for extending abortion rights, claimed current laws on termination denied basic human rights. “How much longer are the women of Northern Ireland expected to wait?” she told MP’s at Westminster. “How much more are they expected to suffer before we speak up – the best of what this place does – as human rights defenders, not human rights deniers?”
After the vote, she triumphantly tweeted: “Thank you to everyone who today stood up for equality in Northern Ireland – whether for same-sex marriage or abortion, today we have said everyone in the UK deserves to be treated as an equal. There’s a road to go yet but today a big step forward.”
There’s no denying this is a resounding success for Northern Ireland, but unfortunately it does not guarantee new laws will be put into place. Everything hangs in the balance of one thing: Northern Ireland’s upcoming vote on the 21st October.
If the region successfully revive their devolved government, they will have the chance to approve or repeal these new laws. However, if they fail to reach a conclusion, the decision made by MP’s at Westminster will prevail.
Until then, we’ll be crossing our fingers that Northern Ireland finally receive their long-deserved for rights.