For the second year running, tensions within the current coalition government mean the UK will not be represented at an EU summit on LGBT rights.
The Sunday Times reports that the Conservative cabinet minister for Culture, Media & Sport, Sajid Javid, has barred the Lib Dem minister for equalities, Jenny Willott, from attending the summit in an official capacity.
The previous Liberal equalities minister, Jo Swinson, was similarly blocked from taking part in the 2013 summit by Javid’s predecessor, Maria Miller.
The combination of LGBT rights and the EU makes for a potent combination given the different values of each coalition party on each, both in Parliament and among grassroots members.
At the summit it is expected a declaration against homophobia will be signed by 11 EU member states.
For the third time in two years, the Northern Ireland Assembly has voted down a motion to introduce same-sex marriage there – now the one part of the UK not to have legislated for it.
The proposal was defeated by 51 to 43, almost exactly the same result as when it was last debated a year ago. The vote went largely along party lines with Sinn Fein and the SDLP, and non-sectarian parties like the Alliance tending to support the measure, but the Unionist parties strongly against.
Unlike the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland hasn’t passed same-sex marriage into law. Today for the third time the devolved Stormont assembly will debate bringing the law there into line with the rest of the UK.
It seems unlikely to pass, not least due to blocking moves by the DUP.
The previous two debates were October 2012, when the motion was rejected by 49 votes to 45, last April when the proposal fell by 53 votes to 42.
Today’s Sunday Times reports that the government is split on introducing mixed-sex civil partnerships.
After the battle of words with some faith groups over same-sex marriage Conservative leader David Cameron is reported to be unwilling to support extension of civil partnerships, for fear that it might be seen as undermining the popularity marriage by providing an alternative form of relationship recognition for mixed-sex couples. Meanwhile Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is strongly supporting the extension of civil partnerships to any consenting couple, in line with his party’s policy.
A government consultation recently closed seeking public opinion on mixed-sex civil partnerships.
Parliaments have already made the decision for Scotland, Wales and England, but a new Ipsos-MORI survey of public opinion shows the debate has brought the people with it – with a majority backing across the political spectrum for same-sex marriage.
No surprise that three in four Liberal Democrat and Labour voters back the measure, perhaps, but support among Conservative voters runs at 61% and even staunchly anti- same-sex marriage party UKIP is out of step with its voters, 54% of whom back its introduction.
The more marked divide is on age: 88 per cent of 18 to 34 year-olds surveyed said same-sex couples should be free to marry, while this falls to 43 per cent of those aged over 65.