A majority of DUP voters now support equal marriage. The DUP’s support is not primarily based on support for their fundamentalist agenda but – like Sinn Féin – upon being seen as the strongest voice for ‘their’ community. They are not impervious to pressure from below, as was reflected in the sacking of Jim Wells as Health Minister after making outrageous homophobic comments.
It has been two years since the demonstration in Belfast which brought 20,000 people to the streets in support of marriage equality. Prior to this point, the issue had been brought up a number of times in Stormont, but was repeatedly rejected by elected representatives.
The gains made over the last few years, both North and South, show what can be achieved when we stand up and make our demands known. Progress has come about as the direct result of organised, mass campaigns involving ordinary people.
In recent months, horrific reports have come to light revealing the imprisonment and torture of over 100 gay men in concentration camps in Chechnya. At least four men are thought to have been murdered, while others have been released to their families for ‘honour killings’.