The Northern Ireland Assembly has voted to pass same sex marriage this afternoon, but a petition of concern tabled by the Democratic Unionist Party will block the measure.
Of 105 MLAs, 53 voted in favour, 52 voted against, and the UUP leader Mike Nesbitt abstained. The motion was supported by Sinn Fein, the SDLP and a selection of Unionists and Independents.
Crucially, a petition of concern was tabled in advance of the vote by the DUP, which effectively vetoed the vote. They have been accused of misusing this petition of concern, which means a bill require separate majorities of both unionists and nationalists to succeed. It was signed by 40 Unionist MLAs.
The afternoon saw a robust debate in which many opponents of same sex marriage complained that the Assembly's time was being wasted on the matter, which has now been brought to the chamber for the fifth time in the past three years. However, in her closing remarks. Catriona Ruane MLA said she genuinely welcomed the tone of the debate.
Amnesty International’s Patrick Corrigan has expressed disappointment with the DUP’s stance. “The misuse of the petition of concern to hold back rather than uphold the rights of a minority group, will mean that the motion is formally defeated. It is a tragedy that same-sex couples are forced to ask the courts to fulfil a responsibility which has been abdicated for too long by too many politicians.”
This is a developing story, and is being updated throughout the afternoon.