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.

:00:17.:00:23.

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

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second-class but pay taxes like everyone else.

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

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What would you teach your children about sexuality?

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

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

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full emancipation of same-sex couples.

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

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with shame and embarrassment. But others stand opposed.

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

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

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

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society here. There is a need for politicians to

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

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

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

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

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couples here living their lives through the debate. Gay

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grandfathers. A couple setting up home together. A

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

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

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having us. You are doing powerful work here. We

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

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

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

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

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interest. What about you, when did you come

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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couple and conducted only through a civil ceremony.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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changing because our lesbian, gay and transgender communities have

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

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churches to intervene. We believe the current legal definition of

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

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

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The Presbyterian Church and the Catholic Church both petitioned all

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

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inconsistent with the Christian life, they are inconsistent with

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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religion, marriage has always been recognised by society as a

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

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

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

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

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

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

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couple but offers blessings to those who have entered a civil

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

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

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

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

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it become a name honoured and respected for wisdom and good

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deeds. We have to remember the apostles and

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

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within the context of the culture of the new.

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

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

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

:09:44.:09:54.
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attend church. I would love to see Maya's lesbian parents used a sperm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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promised to commit yourselves to support this family and Maya?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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legislator and as a minister is initialled that I provide

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

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

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

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and we need to recognise diversity, recognise the quality obligations

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

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

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

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assist the politician in understanding the teaching of that

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

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

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

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against included unionist some members of the Alliance Party. The

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:14:25.:14:35.
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equal rights. One certain things coming yes. We are 30 years behind

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

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

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

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

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

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crossed religious divides. It is perhaps making for unusual

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

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type of politics that does not automatically fall in to Protestant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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repeating itself. You will legislate perversion and immorality.

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To spite opposition from unionist politicians in the Eighties, the

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European Court of Human Rights forced Westminster to decriminalise

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homosexuality head. Should gay marriage been legalised in the rest

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

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

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

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

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force the hands of politicians. Assembly will be dragged to

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

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

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

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are happy with their civil partnership. They have been

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

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It quality is important. Our relationship should not be seen

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

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married with a son. Together Vincent and his partner David

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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wonderful. The issue of gay adoption runs parallel to the

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

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can apply to adopt. Cohabiting couples, irrespective of their

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

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

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

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

:19:15.:19:25.
:19:25.:19:27.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:19:59.:20:05.

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

:20:05.:20:15.
:20:15.:20:16.

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

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

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

:20:25.:20:29.

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

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

:20:33.:20:40.

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

:20:40.:20:47.

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

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

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

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

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

:21:11.:21:19.

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

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

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gay and lesbian community are discriminatory. That is not good

:21:26.:21:32.

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

:21:32.:21:36.

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

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

:21:42.:21:47.

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

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

:21:53.:21:59.

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

:21:59.:22:04.

is being adopted. A an equality commissions survey suggests

:22:04.:22:09.

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

:22:09.:22:15.

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

:22:15.:22:19.

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

:22:19.:22:24.

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

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

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

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

:22:49.:22:57.

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

:22:57.:23:00.

Family and what is best for children are flashpoints in the

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

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they want to contribute. Conor Pendergrast was raised by lesbian

:23:10.:23:14.

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

:23:14.:23:20.

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

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

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

:23:29.:23:35.

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

:23:35.:23:39.

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

:23:39.:23:46.

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

:23:46.:23:49.

people are comfortable with the idea of children being raised by

:23:50.:23:53.

two mothers but not comfortable with them being raised by two

:23:53.:24:01.

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

:24:01.:24:05.

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

:24:05.:24:11.

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

:24:11.:24:16.

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

:24:16.:24:21.

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

:24:21.:24:27.

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

:24:27.:24:31.

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

:24:31.:24:38.

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

:24:38.:24:44.

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

:24:44.:24:48.

society has always respected as special is that between a woman

:24:48.:24:55.

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

:24:55.:25:01.

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

:25:01.:25:07.

conclusive. Studies are run going. A clinical psychologist believes

:25:07.:25:13.

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

:25:13.:25:17.

children is to have to compatible parents, irrespective of their

:25:17.:25:23.

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

:25:23.:25:29.

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

:25:29.:25:33.

emotionally well-adjusted. Families have many permutations in Northern

:25:33.:25:38.

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

:25:38.:25:48.

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

:25:48.:25:53.

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

:25:53.:25:58.

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

:25:58.:26:07.

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

:26:07.:26:16.

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

:26:16.:26:24.

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

:26:24.:26:31.

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

:26:31.:26:35.

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

:26:35.:26:39.

Vincent sees the momentum behind the campaign as irreversible.

:26:39.:26:44.

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

:26:44.:26:49.

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

:26:49.:26:55.

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

:26:55.:26:58.

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

:26:58.:27:05.

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

:27:05.:27:14.

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

:27:14.:27:19.

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

:27:19.:27:25.

touchstone for conflicting cultural values. We probably have a culture

:27:25.:27:30.

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

:27:30.:27:35.

large part. There is significant social change happening. This

:27:35.:27:40.

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

:27:40.:27:46.

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

:27:46.:27:52.

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

:27:52.:27:57.

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

:27:57.:28:03.

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

:28:03.:28:12.

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

:28:12.:28:16.

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

:28:17.:28:26.

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

:28:26.:28:31.

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

:28:31.:28:36.

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

:28:36.:28:42.

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


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