The Rainbow Project, Northern Ireland’s largest support and advocacy organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people, and their families, today raised questions about Arlene Foster’s interventions with the Scottish government around the conversion of Northern Ireland civil partnerships to marriages in Scotland.

Responding to the release of the correspondence by the Scottish government, John O’Doherty, Director of The Rainbow Project said: ‘The documentation, today released by the Scottish Government, demonstrates very clearly that, despite her protestations, Arlene Foster did write to Scottish ministers with the express intention of encouraging them to restrict the ability of same-sex couples from Northern Ireland to convert their civil partnerships to marriages in Scotland.

‘Elected governments in most jurisdictions are expected to go above and beyond in representing the interests of their citizens but it appears that members of the Northern Ireland Executive sought to do the opposite and ensure that NI citizens were significantly disadvantaged when compared to citizens in other jurisdictions.

‘Mrs Foster’s argument that permitting NI couples to convert to same sex marriages in Scotland would cause confusion is difficult to accept considering the confusion caused to lawfully married couples who are not recognised as married in Northern Ireland.

‘Arlene Foster owes the people of Northern Ireland an explanation and apology for covertly seeking to limit their rights and a further apology for maintaining that she had not taken this course of action.’

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

There have been five votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly on same sex marriage, in all of these occasions the DUP have submitted a petition of concern

The Rainbow Project is a member of the Love Equality consortium of organisations campaigning for marriage equality in Northern Ireland which also includes; Cara-Friend, HereNI, Amnesty International, NUS-USI and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

The Rainbow Project is also supporting a couple from Northern Ireland who were married in England and are seeking legal recognition of their marriage in Northern Ireland. The case was heard in December 2015 and we are currently awaiting a judgment.

For further information please contact:

John O’Doherty: 028 9031 9030

Gavin Boyd: 028 9031 9030