LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s parliament voted on Tuesday in favor of a plan that would compel the government to legalize same-sex marriage rights in Northern Ireland if the province is unable to re-establish its own devolved government by Oct. 21.

Lawmakers voted 383 to 73 to add the clause into a technical piece of legislation passing through parliament relating to the restoration of the Northern Irish devolved executive, which collapsed in 2017.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where same-sex marriage is not allowed.

Earlier this year, thousands of people marched through Belfast to demand the recognition of same-sex marriage.

Previous attempts to legislate for same-sex marriage have been blocked by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a key ally of British Prime Minister Theresa May, despite opinion polls in recent years showing most in the region are in favor.

Advocacy groups have called on the government to bypass the frozen local assembly and introduce legislation in the British parliament in Westminster.

Northern Ireland has been without a devolved executive for 2-1/2 years since Irish nationalists Sinn Fein withdrew from the compulsory power-sharing government with the pro-British DUP.

On-off talks to restore the executive resumed in May after a hiatus of more than a year but have made no obvious progress, with the Irish government saying key issues remained as of last week.


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