New poll: 6 in 10 Northern Irish voters back same-sex marriage

A new poll from LucidTalk analysed in the Northern Slant shows that most Northern Irish back same-sex marriage.

Northern Ireland is the only area in the United Kingdom where same-sex marriage is not legal.

It was first legalised in England and Wales in March 2014 under the coalition government and then in Scotland at the end of the year by the SNP government.

On top of that, the Republic of Ireland voted in favour of same-sex marriage in a referendum back in 2015, which was supported by 62% of voters. The vote made Northern Ireland the only place in the British Isles where same-sex marriage is not allowed.

A new LucidTalk poll found that 61% of Northern Irish voters would vote for same-sex marriage if a referendum on the issue were to take place. Just 32.5% said they would vote against the legalisation of same-sex marriage while a further 6.5% said they did not know oo had no opinion.

The poll found that opinion on the matter was split on nationalist/unionist lines, as is Northern Irish politics. A total of 91.4% of respondents who identified as Irish nationalists backed same-sex marriage while a slim majority of 56.3% of unionists would also vote in favour of same-sex marriage if given the choice.

How likely is it that same-sex marriage will become legal in the near future?

A judge recently ruled that it is entirely legal for Northern Ireland to maintain a ban on same-sex marriage, as reported in the Independent.

Under Northern Ireland’s consensus-building democracy, the ruling administration is made up primarily of the two largest parties – one unionist and one nationalist. However, there is currently no administration following a deadlock after a fresh election earlier in the year.

In order for same-sex marriage to become legal in Northern Ireland, a motion would need to be passed by a majority of both nationalists and unionists. In 2015, a motion was supported by a majority of AMs, but failed to get a cross-community majority, meaning that it was rejected, as reported by the BBC.

This means that in order for same-sex marriage to become legal, the unionist group in Stormont, whose biggest group is the DUP, must support it. That is unlikely to happen any time soon, but with this poll showing that most unionists favour same-sex marriage – albeit only just - the assembly could be on track to supporting same-sex marriage a few election cycles down the line.

The results of the weighted poll of Northern Irish voters can be accessed here. The poll was conducted between the 8th and 11th September.