Sinn Féin MLA Caitríona Ruane speaking on the party’s motion today to the Assembly on marriage equality said establishing an equal society means recognising the many diverse groups and sections of Irish society that need enhanced protection from the State.
“Sinn Fein advocates the right to social, economic, gender and cultural equality. This encompasses equality for all, irrespective of race, age, marital or family status, sexual orientation, physical or mental capacities, ethnicity, social origin, political or religious affiliations.
“Republicans are only too aware of what it means to be treated as second class citizens. Our politics are the result of decades of resistance to marginalisation and discrimination.
“In the past the North was synonymous with the never, never brigade embodied by the DUP. The DUP were against the decriminalisation of homosexuality, they were against civil partnership and now are against marriage equality, against gay people adopting and against people from the gay community donating blood.
“This debate and the two other debates we had in this Assembly during this term are not a waste of time or money. Equality is a matter of public interest.
“Health Minister Mr Poots has no problem wasting public money £48,149 (to date) in high court and supreme court fees regarding adoption, and £37,112 on the lifetime ban on blood donations
“Sinn Fein motion specifically includes ‘supports freedom of religion by allowing religious institutions to define, observe and practise marriage according to their beliefs, granting them the freedom whether or not to conduct same-sex marriages.’
“We are not here to legislate according to our consciences, we are here to legislate on the basis of equality. Some say Sinn Féin will lose votes because we raised this rights issue, others say we are using it to gain votes. Simple matter is both are wrong – Sinn Féin brought this motion forward because we believe in equality and human rights for all."