Game of Thrones is about dragons, death, destruction. It could also destroy Northern Ireland’s continuing reluctance to legalize same-sex marriage.
LGBTI rights advocates are warning Northern Ireland’s booming film industry could be lost if the country refuses to treat its citizens and residents equally.
The HBO show, which films in Northern Ireland six months out of the year, is just one prime example that could be moved if politicians refuse to pass a marriage law. Game of Thrones has boosted the country’s tourism industry alone by £8.6 million a year.
A poll released today (4 July) has shown 70% support same-sex marriage, up two percentage points compared to this time last year.
‘Every other country that surrounds us, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Iceland, all have same-sex marriage. We’re literally surrounded by marriage equality,’ Gavin Boyd, Policy and Advocacy Manager at The Rainbow Project, told Gay Star News.
‘We rely hugely on investment, and we have a booming film industry. We don’t want companies like HBO, who has a very clear human rights standard, to go elsewhere.’
He added: ‘A number of companies have raised issues with questions of why Northern Ireland doesn’t have equality. This means that we could lose investment, and lose the contracts that are already here.’
Boyd warned this should serve as a ‘political reality’ for the government, and it should be a reminder that Northern Ireland does not want to stand out as a sore thumb.
‘Northern Ireland is seen as a place where the European values of equality and fair treatment are not respected. It can have many negative outcomes that we can’t even foresee.’
Michael Fuchs, chair and CEO of HBO, has said: ‘HBO is strongly opposed to any form of discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.’
The Democratic Unionist Party controls the Northern Irish Assembly. Despite the majority of assembly members being in favor of same-sex marriage, the DUP has been successful in blocking same-sex marriage multiple times.
Two same-sex couples are currently taking legal action against the Stormont administration. The case was heard in December and, after months of delays, a judgment should happen this month. However, this is not a short term solution and the case could be dragged on for years.
Love Equality, the umbrella group of many LGBTI and human rights organizations, is also campaigning for same-sex marriage.
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