Northern Ireland

NI Business leaders call for same-sex marriage legislation

A sign from a pro-gay marriage march in Belfast saying: "equal love, equal marriage" Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that does not allow same-sex marriage

Representatives of several leading multinationals have signed an open letter calling for the introduction of same-sex marriage in NI.

They include financial, legal and IT businesses with NI branch offices.

The letter stated: "While many of the arguments for equal marriage are based on rights and equality, there is also an important economic argument."

The signatories said they wanted to see their LGBT employees enjoy the same rights as those in the rest of the UK.

'Outward looking'

"A diverse, outward-looking and inclusive society is essential to create a vibrant and competitive economy and a prosperous future for Northern Ireland," the letter adds.

Drinks manufacturers Coca Cola Ireland, law firms Baker McKenzie and Pinsent Masons, consultants Deloitte and PwC, Liberty IT, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank all added their voice to the message.

Andrea McIlroy-Rose, of Pinsent Masons said the move would have an effect beyond individual employees.

"The business case for marriage equality is compelling, both in terms of retaining and attracting talent, and also to send out a message to international investors that Northern Ireland is a modern, outward looking economy, with a progressive attitude on personal freedoms and rights."

Sandra Wright of Ulster Bank said the business saw itself as "truly inclusive and diverse".

"We want to do what we can to ensure our customers, colleagues and the LGBTQ+ community in Northern Ireland have the same rights extended to them as the rest of the UK and Ireland," she added.

UK legislation

In light of the current lack of devolved government at Stormont, John O'Doherty, director the Rainbow Project and member of the Love Equality consortium called on the UK government to introduce legislation allowing for same-sex marriage.

"The brain drain from Northern Ireland is a recognised fact and it is important that we reflect upon all of its causes, not least of all the fact that Northern Ireland remains the only part of these Islands not to recognise equal marriage," he said.

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