Conservative Lord Robert Hayward has said that he tabled an amendment to extend equal marriage to Northern Ireland because the UK “can’t wait forever for the Northern Irish Assembly to come back together”.
Northern Ireland has been without a devolved government since January 2017, since relations deteriorated between governing parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein.
Northern Ireland is now the last devolved area to not have legalised same-sex marriage.
Lord Hayward told talkRADIO’s James Whale: “It is a devolved matter – the whole question of marriage, divorce and the like have been devolved – and I am a supporter of devolution.
“Therefore, it was originally a decision of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England, but at the moment we don’t have a Northern Irish Assembly and they have not had one for two years.
“So what I did on Friday, with the support of Conor McGinn who is doing the same in the Commons, was say ‘enough is enough’.
“We can’t wait forever for the Assembly to come back together and so I have tabled an amendment to try and make progress on the matter.”
'I was outed in a national newspaper'
Lord Robert Hayward. Image: UK Parliament
He added that the position on equal marriage is shifting in Northern Ireland, just slower than other parts of the UK.
“As I have indicated in previous speeches, I think people have been surprised that, while I have not got total support of the DUP, I have support from some. They have provided support and advice,” he said.
“The position in Northern Ireland is moving but it is just moving a lot slower than in other parts of the country.
“I wish we did not have the need to legislate in Westminster because I would rather they took the decision in Belfast.”
Lord Hayward also shared his own experience of coming out, which happened due to being “outed” by a national newspaper.
“I was not an MP when I was actually outed by a national newspaper, although I had got involved with Stonewall and other lesbian and gay organisations,” he said.
“But, there were friends and parts of my family who did not know. It was not easy but society has moved on.
“It is a lot easier for a lot more people now, and I am really pleased about that.”