Out actor Sir Ian McKellen has backed a
proposed bill that would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in
It is the fifth attempt at marriage
equality in Northern Ireland, the sole part of the UK where gay
couples are excluded from civil marriage.
“As a gay Englishman, whose ancestors
hail from County Antrim, I am concerned that the Northern Ireland
Assembly should establish full legal equality for LGBT residents in
Northern Ireland,” McKellen
“Northern Irish people should not be
the victims at home of specious arguments in favour of inequality.
They should not have to travel to Britain nor to the Republic, to be
“Just as coming out as a gay person,
changes one’s life entirely for the better, coming out as a
country, in favour of equality, will bring credit to the entire
citizenry, regardless of their sexuality or gender.”
“I hope the vote will give us all a
chance to celebrate the unity of civil rights already enjoyed by LGBT
people in adjacent countries,” he added.
While the proposal is expected to
narrowly clear the region's parliament, the Democratic Unionists
(DUP), the largest party in the Stormont assembly, has threatened to
torpedo the legislation with a “petition of concern,” which
blocks bills not widely supported by leading parties.