NUS-USI’s Women’s Officer and LGBT+ Officer have jointly called for MPs to back legislation going to the House of Commons in the coming days to try and deliver provision on abortion and marriage equality in the North.
NUS-USI Women’s Officer Rachel Watters said: “Over the past 3 days, a mother from Northern Ireland has live-tweeted her devastating experience of travelling to Liverpool with her husband to access a termination that she is denied at home, via the Twitter account @HomeRather. The current abortion law in Northern Ireland forces people experiencing a fatal foetal abnormality to either continue the pregnancy or travel to England to access a termination. No one should have to share their pain in this way, but the woman behind it has bravely shared her story so that legislators cannot continue to allow it.
“The United Nations and other international human rights bodies have reminded the UK government on numerous occasions that it is the state party responsible for upholding human rights throughout the UK. Devolution does not operate as a shield against this overarching responsibility. Abortion law is devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly, yes, but that Assembly has not functioned in 21 months. In that time, the UK Supreme Court has acknowledged that the abortion law in Northern Ireland violates the ECHR Article 8 rights of women and girls denied abortions in cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality. The UK government, including the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, have an obligation and the power to act to change the law.
“I implore all MPs to support Diana Johnson’s 10 minute bill on the decriminalisation of abortion and the amendments to the Northern Ireland bill submitted by MPs Stella Creasy and Conor McGinn to give the NI Secretary of State powers to address abortion, equal marriage and the status of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.”
NUS-USI LGBT+ Officer Conor Loughran said: The Conservative party manifesto states that the party opposes inequality and social division, yet at this moment the Government is failing to address and correct the inequalities in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland was the last place in the United Kingdom to decriminalise homosexuality and it will be the last place in the United Kingdom to bring about equal marriage.
“As a representative of LGBT+ students in Northern Ireland, I call on this Government to support efforts to address Northern Ireland’s strict and outdated abortion and marriage laws which are being brought to the House of Commons this week.
“The Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Minister for Women and Equalities have a duty to the people of Northern Ireland to ensure they have the same basic rights as every other citizen in the United Kingdom.
“For the LGBT+ community in Northern Ireland, this is critical. We are facing a mental health crisis. The majority of LGBT+ children feel unwelcome in school. People are leaving Northern Ireland to live somewhere where they are accepted for who they are.
“Enough is enough, this Government must act. By not supporting us, this Government breaks its own pledge. We demand equality, it is time to deliver.”