Same Sex - Different Rights? Spotlight

Same Sex - Different Rights?

Hard-hitting investigations on the major stories affecting life in Northern Ireland. Jennifer O'Leary investigates the controversy in Northern Ireland over the gay marriage issue.

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causing controversy in Westminster. Yearly controversy is much the same.


For some it is a civil rights denied. We are completely


second-class but pay taxes like everyone else.


Gay couples want the right to marry and be a riot -- allowed to adopt.


What would you teach your children about sexuality?


I would teach them very simply add a young age that some people like boys


and some like girls. Some churches accept gay marriage. We support the


full emancipation of same-sex couples.


There will be no shame in our home and name-macro will not have to deal


with shame and embarrassment. But others stand opposed.


It is not a matter of doubt, it is pure human reason. Just because some


people claim something about equality, does not mean it is.


We investigate if a new fault line is opening up in politics and


society here. There is a need for politicians to


leave the religious believes at home. Who does our loyalist lesbian


vote for? Is this a question? most important thing is same-sex


marriage to them, I suspect the DUP Across the UK, moves to allow


same-sex marriage have proved highly controversial. Tonight, we meet gay


couples here living their lives through the debate. Gay


grandfathers. A couple setting up home together. A


new mother. And a couple who want a Meet Kerry and Julianne. They are


moving in together and doing up Hello. How are you? Thanks for


having us. You are doing powerful work here. We


have been in two weeks, the kitchen walls have to be finished and the


gas is going in this week, and that's us. When did you realise


growing up you were attracted to women and girls your age? It was


really gradual. Even at 11 at the age of getting boyfriends, I had no


interest. What about you, when did you come


out? Kind of the same as Kerry, I came to grips with it at 14.


parents did not take it as well as I would have liked, but... What


happened? My mum was supportive, I think it was me that could not cope


with it, I thought I was not normal. Shall we see upstairs? Yes, let's


go. Mind your head on this. This is Kerry's shrine to her shoes.


I have a lot of space for my shoes. I wanted to build wardrobes in the


front room but was not allowed. You have a whole box of shoes here. And


I have a suitcase of summer shoes. What size shoe are you? I am to?


you, Julianne? I'm a size six, unfortunately.


This is these secret of a relationship, to winning, not enough


Undercurrent read legislation, a marriage can only be between a man


and women conducted through a religious or civil ceremony. --


under legislation. Since 2005, lesbian and gay couples have been


able to enter into a civil partnership. There are two main


distinctions. A civil partnership can only be between the same-sex


couple and conducted only through a civil ceremony.


A civil partnership confreres most of the greats of our marriage, but


many gay couples don't think it is enough. Civil partnership, even


though it is not on your agenda right now, it might be down the


line. If you wanted to get married that option is not there. How do you


feel about that? Personally, I would not want a religious ceremony, but I


would like to have a civil marriage. That will not be open to us and that


infuriates us. People who are sinners in the eyes of the Bible can


get their marriage accepted in the eyes of God, yet because we are


Northern Ireland Ireland was the first place in the UK to hold


same-sex civil partnerships. But it had been the last to decriminalise


homosexuality. On the day the most recent census was carried out in


2011 there were 766 people living in civil partnership households here.


John O'Doherty is among a new generation of campaigners. He is


director of the Rainbow Project, a gay rights organisation. He has done


living with his partner, shame, for three years. For them a civil


partnership would not be sufficient. -- his partner, Shane. What is your


definition of marriage? I always took it like my mum and dad


being married, they loved each other and brought up a family and are


still going strong. That is what it meant to me. I would like to think


me and John are on the track to be like that, too. Would you like to


get married at some stage? Yes, I would. I do! Is a civil partnership


not enough? It is not the same. People don't


grow up and say I want to have a civil partners someday, you want to


be married. It is a commitment.It is, but it is not seen as equal.


Just last month, Sinn Fein urged MLAs to legalise same-sex marriage.


People do not want to see citizens discriminated against. They are


changing because our lesbian, gay and transgender communities have


said enough is enough. The move to legalise same-sex marriage mobilised


churches to intervene. We believe the current legal definition of


marriage, as between one man and one women, with his fist -- its historic


and Biblical basis, is a fundamental building block of society.


The Presbyterian Church and the Catholic Church both petitioned all


MLAs to oppose the motion. We say that homosexual acts are


inconsistent with the Christian life, they are inconsistent with


natural law and the intention and purpose of our sexual capacity.


Proponents of gay marriage have framed much of the debate as an


issue of equality, but those are against argues same-sex marriage can


never be equal to marriage between a man and a woman. You cannot say


these two things are the same. While it is a very powerful and emotive


word come equality, and important, it does not apply. With respect, the


word does not apply in this case because it does not suit your


dogma. It is not a matter of dogma, it is pure human reason. Just


because people claim something is about equality it does not mean it


is. We don't argue this simply as a matter of religion. Irrespective of


religion, marriage has always been recognised by society as a


fundamental institution on which the state and society is based. When one


looks at the continuum and the social justice and God 's love...


But gay marriage is not opposed by all churches here. Chris Hudson is a


Unitarian minister of all souls Church in Belfast. It is obvious we


support refill emancipation of same-sex couples in society. -- we


support the full emancipation. By law he is unable to marry a gay


couple but offers blessings to those who have entered a civil


partnership. Today he is holding a naming ceremony for a lesbian


couple's baby. We give to you the name Maya Tabakin.


Are you preaching from the text of the Bible? I believe that I am.


God's love is not exclusive and include all people in all forms.


it become a name honoured and respected for wisdom and good


deeds. We have to remember the apostles and


disciples and the evangelists, they were talking about God 's love


within the context of the culture of the new.


We are not of their culture. If more people agreed with your


interpretation of the Scripture, wouldn't there be crowds of people


coming here? You cannot judge people's faith by whether they


attend church. I would love to see Maya's lesbian parents used a sperm


donation through a private clinic in Europe. Having a child was something


Paula, a Michael's birthing mother, had always wanted. Paula also wanted


a religious ceremony to celebrate her daughter's birth. I am


personally deeply religious and wanted a blessing done with God. It


means there will be no shame in our home, and Maya will not have to deal


with shame and embarrassment about to her parents are. However, her


partner chose to remain anonymous. There is the problem by partner, who


can't be identified. This is due to having an elderly family and we


don't want to cause any disruption there. I am going to run out of the


door with her, Paula! Isn't she gorgeous? Do you, the congregation,


promised to commit yourselves to support this family and Maya?


We do. A recent survey of British attitudes on gay marriage suggest


people of faith are just as likely to support same-sex marriage as


opposed it. The survey found those who identified with a religion were


evenly split on allowing same-sex couples to marry. 43% were for it,


Matters of faith and public policy can collide. David Ford is a


practising Presbyterian. He supports same-sex civil marriage, a


view that is at odds with his own church. David Ford chose to step


aside from active duty is in his church after a number of the


congregation expressed unease at his stance. What I have to do as a


legislator and as a minister is initialled that I provide


appropriate services for everybody in this society, many of whom do


not share my beliefs. You have the same religious belief, but you want


marriage equality. Our I believe in the separation of church and state


and we need to recognise diversity, recognise the quality obligations


of the state are to provide services on an equal basis. The


state must recognise the right so faith groups. If a politician


belongs to upper lip -- particular faith community, it has a right to


assist the politician in understanding the teaching of that


church. As if you can extract religion from who people are, that


is a nonsense. His Assembly rejected the motion by Sinn Fein to


legalise same-sex marriage -- that the Assembly. Those who voted


against included unionist some members of the Alliance Party. The


DUP tabled a Petition of Concern that ensures that a motion will


only be approved if the majority of nationalists and unionists bracket.


So some people seem to think if you do not fall into line with their


line of thinking you are intolerant. We should be more respectful off


people who have sincerely held views on things. We should not mock


them. Who is mocking them?I am not getting into that. Why would you


say that? I have heard people describe those who oppose same-sex


marriage as bigots. They are not, they are people who care about the


society they live in. They support marriage. For this couple, the


politics of the debate has posed a particular problem. They are


lesbian loyalists, which causes them a dilemma when it comes to


decide who to vote for. What about the DUP? They are not pushing for


equal rights. One certain things coming yes. We are 30 years behind


the rest of the UK. Who do you vote for? This is the question. At the


moment, you cannot be gay and a loyalist. It depends what issue is


most important in their lives. I have yet to meet anybody who votes


on a single issue. At analysts say the single issue has revealed signs


of a new political religious fault line. His it is an issue that has


crossed religious divides. It is perhaps making for unusual


alliances. It is perhaps giving people a glimpse of a different


type of politics that does not automatically fall in to Protestant


and Catholic boxes. France became the 9th country in Europe to


legalise gay marriage. Closer to home this week, MPs debated whether


to legalise it in England and Wales. It is also on the radar in Scotland


and the Republic. The agenda of the Government in the south, Scotland,


Wales and England. Of course it should be on the agenda. Not before


time that legislation should be brought in. The North will be left


behind. The current stand against it may be a case of history


repeating itself. You will legislate perversion and immorality.


To spite opposition from unionist politicians in the Eighties, the


European Court of Human Rights forced Westminster to decriminalise


homosexuality head. Should gay marriage been legalised in the rest


of the UK and not here, a legal challenge by it for Stormont to


bring the law into line with Britain. We have same-sex couples


knocking at our door saying they want to take a case should this


transpired. A court challenge is inevitable. They court ruling might


force the hands of politicians. Assembly will be dragged to


legislate, what it should have been doing in the first place. Marriage


equality is at the top of the gay rights campaign in the UK, but not


every gay couple wants to be married. Vincent and his partner


are happy with their civil partnership. They have been


together 12 years. We have no intention to upgrade to a marriage.


It quality is important. Our relationship should not be seen


different from everybody else. Before Vincent came out, he was


married with a son. Together Vincent and his partner David


helped to raise him. And his wife recently gave birth to a baby boy,


the first grandchild in the family. What are you looking forward to


about being a grandfather? When he has started to walk, and he is


walking down the street, you go to the park. It is new to me. I


changed my first nappy last week. It is fantastic. I love it. It is


an opportunity I thought I would not have. Some people would look at


you with your grandchild and think there is something wrong with your


having a grandchild. My parents were not gay. They were


heterosexual. They had two children and one of those is gay and one of


those is straight. I have raised a child who is heterosexual. He is


wonderful. The issue of gay adoption runs parallel to the


campaign for same-sex marriage. A single person, gay or heterosexual,


can apply to adopt. Cohabiting couples, irrespective of their


sexuality, are ruled out. They heterosexual couple could marry and


then applied to adopt. Gay couples do not have the option. They can


foster. John and Shane applied. When did you both have a serious


chat about having children? John said he had thought about fostering.


I started to look into it. How did your families take it? They were


great. They were supportive. My sisters and my parents encouraged.


Shane said it never crossed his mind that he would not have the


option to have children. Did you think it would be rolled out for


you? There was no doubt in my mind I would have children. I would have


expected it this time in my life I would have had children. I find it


hard, that people who do not know me and have no idea about me, my


family, my upbringing, decide I am not suitable to be a parent. It


baffles. What about you? Do you get upset? Sometimes. We have a great


house, a great relationship. We hope to bring other people to enjoy


it, as well. Northern Ireland is the only part in the UK where


unmarried couples are banned from applying to adopt. The Human Rights


Commission challenge the law and the High Court ruled that this ban


on gay and unmarried couples adopting is unlawful. The ruling is


being appealed by the DUP minister. I will act in the interests of the


child. It is not a human right to adopt. People need to get back here.


We must ensure that his human rights of the child are considered.


People can get on hobby-horses but they do not provide solutions.


Child welfare is paramount. We have to do everything to protect our


children. Where I part company with some of the statements by the


minister is that I believe some of his statements in relation to be


gay and lesbian community are discriminatory. That is not good


enough. The DUP said the Health Minister's decisions are taken


objectively. His department said he is committed to a reform of


adoption law. As a point of principle, do you think that gay


couples should be allowed to adopt? They are allowed to foster. Let's


look at what the minister comes forward in his proposals. What I


think is we should focus less on who is adopting and focused on who


is being adopted. A an equality commissions survey suggests


negative attitudes towards gay people are does -- are decreasing.


Nevertheless, 27% said they would mind having a gay person as a


neighbour. When asked if they would be unhappy if they close relatives


were to form a relationship with a gay person, the figure almost


doubled. 42% said they would be unhappy. I tested opinion in


Belfast. Should gay people be allowed to marry? Definitely.


disagree. Definitely not a. It says so in the Bible. People are perhaps


living in the olden days. people should have equal rights.


Family and what is best for children are flashpoints in the


debate. For the generation who have grown up in same-sex households,


they want to contribute. Conor Pendergrast was raised by lesbian


parents and has become an advocate for same-sex parenting and wants to


change what he sees as prejudice to families like his own. I am Conor


Pendergrast. I would like to talk to you about my family. There is me,


my brother and my parents, Anne and Bernadette. I do not feel different


because of my family. My friends have different types of families.


What they have in common is their parents' love them and they love


them back. That is important. is there an element of sexism? Some


people are comfortable with the idea of children being raised by


two mothers but not comfortable with them being raised by two


fathers. I think there is a latent homophobia. People would expect two


mothers to raise children perfectly well. There is the idea that men


are not the caring, loving parents. Of opponents of same-sex marriages


say society is best served by keeping a marriage between a man


and woman. The it comes back to the idea of what do you make normal and


what is the gold standard for the bringing up of children? The best


place for a child to be brought up is in a marriage between his mother


and father. Is less than a gold standard second best? I am simply


saying it is what you make normal his society. The situation that


society has always respected as special is that between a woman


ants -- a woman and a man as mother and father in a marriage. Overall,


research into the effects on a child of same-sex parenting is not


conclusive. Studies are run going. A clinical psychologist believes


that children thrive in stable, loving families. What is best for


children is to have to compatible parents, irrespective of their


gender and sexual identity. Children of same-sex parents are


likely to be as successful as others at school. They are


emotionally well-adjusted. Families have many permutations in Northern


Ireland now. The if you want a family, raising children and


passing on, and also your heritage, that is achievable. Having a family


matters to these two. There reality is the majority grow up with the


human instinct to want to become parents. Just because you happen to


be gay does not mean that goes away. You may never be a father. I cannot


imagine it, really. It is not just about being a father, it is about


having a family. Having my family extended. Having that experience of


being a parent that my parents had bid the person I love. I cannot


imagine it. All the so he does not want a gay marriage himself,


Vincent sees the momentum behind the campaign as irreversible.


People will say how did the church, politicians get on the wrong side


of this? The generation of the future that Ethan will be part of


will look back and wonder what the fuss was about. That is my hope.


Those on the other side of the debate believe their values are


being attacked. Does secularism have the right to dominate? No. We


need genuine diversity. The new phobia is religion. That is not of


an equal society. The judge still minister says gay marriage is the


touchstone for conflicting cultural values. We probably have a culture


war in a number of areas. The issue about same-sex relationships is a


large part. There is significant social change happening. This


society is becoming to verse. For some people it is difficult to


recognise that -- becoming diverse. As it stands, same-sex couples in


Northern Ireland cannot marry and are banned from planning to adopt.


If I said you you could wake up tomorrow morning and Mari Shane, or


you could legally adopt as a gay couple, what would you choose?


have to decide? How would you feel if you were told that? If equality


is not brought in here and it is in the rest of the UK, would you stay


here? Yes, I would. It is really tough. You cannot marry me if you


are moving. A nation to legalise gay marriages are unlikely to come


before the Assembly again for at least six months. It is not


Jennifer O'Leary investigates the controversy in Northern Ireland over the gay marriage issue.

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