Northern Ireland's new Secretary of State Karen Bradley comments have enraged the LGBT community
Northern Ireland's new Secretary of State Karen Bradley has enraged the LGBT community by comparing the holdup of marriage equality there to the installation of internet broadband.
Responding to a question about marriage rights for gay citizens this week Bradley said: “It will be a matter for the elected politicians in Northern Ireland... that's not for me to impose, in the same way, it's not for me to impose the way that superfast broadband is rolled out across the country.”
Equality is like national infrastructure, Bradley seemed to be suggesting, it will only come to Northern Ireland when the Democratic Unionist Party permits it to.
Increasingly clear that Karen Bradley is out of her depth. ??♂️ https://t.co/UnMAjLOLll— James McMordie (@JamesMcMordie) January 23, 2018
The current stalemate has real consequences. Although 70% of voters in Northern Ireland and the majority of its Assembly Members now support marriage equality for LGBT couples, their politicians continually fail to form a government which can enact it, postponing its arrival.
That stagnation has led gay activists to call upon Conservative part leader Theresa May to implement the will of the people and extend Equal Marriage rights, the law in every other part of the UK. So far, however, she hasn't listened to them.
The previous Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire also refused to act on the issue. "Despite numerous requests, the previous Secretary failed to meet the Love Equality coalition,” Rainbow Project Director John O'Doherty told the press.
“We once again urge the new Secretary of State Karen Bradley to meet with the representatives of the campaign so then she can fully understand the hurt, anger, and frustration felt by so many LGBT people, treated as second-class citizens within Northern Ireland by the UK Government.”
Karen Bradley condemned for comparing gay marriage to high speed broadband rollout. Some might say Northern Ireland needs both... https://t.co/RdlYXoeVvW— Patrick Maguire (@patrickkmaguire) January 23, 2018
Statistically, life for the LGBT community in Northern Ireland paints a sobering picture. 47% of LGBT people in Northern Ireland have considered suicide, 25% have attempted it, 35% have self-harmed.
Critics have claimed that maintaining the Brexit support deal with the DUP is more important to the Conservative party than the fate of equal marriage in Northern Ireland.
But for Bradley to compare the denial of LGBT rights to people not having broadband is unspeakably insulting and dehumanizing activists said, and they have called on her to bring Northern Ireland's marriage laws into line with the rest of the UK immediately.