At midnight on Monday 21st October the deadline passed for the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive to prevent changes to legislation on abortion and same-sex marriage. As a result, the Government must legislate for abortion and equal marriage in Northern Ireland. This happy outcome, bringing Northern Ireland into line with the UK, the Republic of Ireland and other liberal nations, followed strenuous cross-party work.
We were pleased to see Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy lead this cross-party effort, with strong support from Liberal Democrats such as Layla Moran, despite unpleasant targeted attacks in Walthamstow by anti abortion protesters.
Meera Chadha, the Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Walthamstow, said:"Extending abortion and equal marriage rights to Northern Ireland is a hugely positive step in ensuring people can life safely and freely in all parts of the UK. We were hugely disappointed with the vicious campaign by anti abortion protesters in Walthamstow and will continue to fight for citizens rights locally and nationally."
During the countdown to the deadline, Ms Moran spoke on the historic significance of what has been achieved.
"The time for inequality in Northern Ireland is over. For decades, women in Northern Ireland have been subject to laws that have violated their human rights. With the midnight deadline rapidly approaching, this will finally come to an end. Despite a last minute stunt by the DUP, and a lack of support by this Conservative Government on the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, we are finally closing the curtain on the historic inequalities in Northern Ireland.
The Liberal Democrats have a proud history of standing up for women’s rights and LGBT+ rights, from the Abortion Act 1967, to Liberal Democrats legislating for same-sex marriage in Government. And we will keep fighting for further progress. In the next few months the Liberal Democrats will not take anything for granted and will work to ensure that the necessary changes to the law are made so that women in Northern Ireland have a right to seek an abortion and anyone can marry the person they love."