[JURIST] The Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) [party website] on Monday filed a petition of concern [Assembly backgrounder], effectively blocking the region’s fifth attempt at legalizing same-sex marriage. The matter came to a vote Monday morning in the Northern Ireland Assembly [official website] and was approved by a 53-52 majority [vote details] by the Members of the Legislative Assembly [official report]. However, the DUP filed the petition before debate on the issue began, and the nature of the petition is such that each party must approve the issue by a majority vote before it can become a law. Northern Ireland remains the only part of the UK not to allow same-sex marriage and joins only Italy and Germany as places where same-sex marriage is not allowed in Western Europe.
The issue of same-sex marriage has long been a been a matter of contention for both Northern Ireland and her southern neighbor. In May the Republic of Ireland voted by referendum [JURIST report] to approve same-sex marriage. In 2013 Northern Ireland began allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, an act banned until an Irish court overturned [JURIST reports] a law the year before. Northern Ireland began recognizing civil unions soon after a 2006 Irish Human Rights Commission‘s [advocacy website] report asserted that Ireland’s ban on same-sex marriage may be a violation of international human rights law [JURIST report].