The Bill

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The draft Bill that has been prepared can be downloaded here.

The Bill is quite simple.

In essence, it would enable the UK Parliament to take back legislative authority for marriage in Northern Ireland and empower the Secretary of State to make same-sex marriage lawful there.

The main provisions of the Bill are contained in the first three clauses.

Clause 1 makes same-sex marriage lawful in Northern Ireland. The consequence of this is that, subject to any necessary changes to UK legislation permitted by Clause 2, existing same-sex marriages, solemnised in other jurisdictions (such as England and Wales), would be treated as lawful marriages.

Clause 2 requires the Secretary of State to make provision for the solemnisation of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, and allows the Secretary of State to make any additional changes to UK legislation that need to be made as a consequence of same-sex marriage being lawful. The Secretary of State would have 12 months, from the time the Act came into force, to make the necessary amendments to the Marriage (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 to enable the solemnisation of same-sex marriage.

Clause 3 “un-devolves” marriage and restores the power to legislate for marriage in Northern Ireland to the UK Parliament. This is achieved by adding marriage to the list of reserved matters in the Northern Ireland Act 1998.