NORTH Antrim Traditional Unionist Voice MLA Jim Allister says the Stormont Finance Committee is ‘not interested in protection for minorities’.
In a statement the TUV leader said: “I am disappointed and not a little alarmed that the Finance Committee decided to vote against commissioning a research paper on the civil, human and employment rights of registrars who cannot in good conscience perform same sex marriages.
“Last week I proposed that a research paper be written on the issue – one about which I am receipt of a large amount of correspondence from concerned members of the public.
“It is the norm for requests for research to be nodded through the committee without so much as a discussion but when it came to this human rights issue there was a request to delay it for a week.
“I proposed that: ‘The Finance Committee commission research in respect of issues arising from requirements on registrars to conduct same sex marriages with regard to their conscience and employment rights, human rights and religious beliefs. What protections exist and how the issue is addressed in other jurisdictions both in the British Isles and further afield’.
“The issue was forced to a vote and the proposal was defeated by five votes to three with the Sinn Fein and the SDLP opposing the commissioning of research and the UUP chair, Steve Aiken, and DUP vice-chair, Paul Frew, supporting my proposal.
“This wasn’t an attempt to get protection for Christians. It was to ask someone to go off and write a paper about what protections existed in other places.
“The proposal wasn’t committing anyone to anything. It didn’t mean that by supporting it any one was expressing a view one way or the other. Yet the attempt to commission a committee research paper was defeated.
“I am surprised by the SDLP particularly. Here we have a party which portrays itself as the party of civil rights voting against even considering the issue of freedom of conscience for Christians. Worse than that. Voting to express disinterest in people’s human, civil and employment rights.
“It is a poor lookout for traditional Christian values in the new Northern Ireland if this is how Nationalists intend to behave.
“The Finance Committee voted to say it was not interested in protection for minorities. Those who opposed the proposal should be ashamed of themselves”.
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