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MPs have voted resoundingly to extend abortion rights and same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland, after years of public activism.

The government has said it will honour the plan despite ministerial doubts, with the Commons voting 383 to 73 to pass the legendary amendment to a predominantly technical bill on the stalled Northern Ireland assembly.

Labour MP Conor McGinn tabled the bill, who is a longstanding campaigner for same-sex marriage rights in the province.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where same-sex marriage is not legal. Prior to the vote, Northern Ireland minister John Penrose insisted that the government would honour the result; 

“Should this pass it will go into law,” he said. “It will become part of primary legislation. And so ministers will be bound by it and the government will proceed.”

MPs have also voted on another amendment to the bill to extend abortion rights to Northern Ireland, tabled by the Labour MP Stella Creasy.

The government have said for a long time that both issues are devolved matters and shouldn't be imposed on the North by Westminster, but McGinn and Creasy emphasise that that action must be taken.

The assembly and executive have been suspended since January 2017 amid political deadlock. McGinn’s amendment would theoretically lead to a change in the law within three months if Stormont remains stalled.

The region's executive can approve or repeal the measure if and when the North's executive is united in government.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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McGinn told the Commons the house had “failed LGBTQ+  people in Northern Ireland before."

The MP said: “Tonight, we have the chance to do the right thing. People in Northern Ireland, and indeed across Britain and Ireland, are watching. I, for one, am not going to let them down. I hope colleagues do not let them down either.”

Congratulations Northern Ireland, and thank you Conor McGinn for this incredible achievement for the LGBTQ+ community.

Feature image: © Brendan Harkin/Love Equality

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It was announced yesterday that upskirting will become a criminal offence in England, carrying a two-year prison sentence.

The offence of taking photos under a person's clothing without their permission is currently still legal in Ireland, but is illegal in Scotland. 

Gina Martin has been an ardent campaigner for the criminalisation of upskirting for over two years, and said she was exhausted and happy after it was decided the offence became illegal.

The bill passed its third reading in the House of Lords yesterday, meaning upskirting is to be a criminal offence. 

In June, the Ministry of Justice claimed it would support the ban which formed an aspect of the Voyeurism Offences Bill.

Gina Martin, a freelance writer from London, has headed the campaign since her own experience as a victim of upskirting herself at a music festival in 2017.

"I am over the moon. Upskirting will be illegal. After becoming a victim and recognising a gap in the law, I partnered with Ryan Whelan of Gibson Dunn and began 18 months of exhaustive, emotional and life-changing work."

"Now? We have changed the law! I always thought politics was impenetrable but with the right help and willpower you can do it. We did it. We made upskirting a sexual offence!"

"I am exhausted and so so happy!"

Gina said she spotted one of the men who upskirted her sharing the image on his mobile in front of her. Despite grabbing the phone and showing it to police, four days later the case was closed.

The offence will gain a two-year sentence; victims previously had to try other avenues to get justice, such as outraging public decency.

We think it's high time this became a legal offence in Ireland. Congrats Gina, you're one badass lady.

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Abortions will no longer be available under insurance policies for women in Texas. 

Instead, women will be forced to take out additional policies to cover their potential future abortions in cases of rape, incest or personal choice elective abortion. 

The bill, dubbed by many as the 'rape insurance' bill, was signed into law this week. 

Many people feel that due to this bill, survivors of rape will be forced to pay out more in their insurance polices, and women in general will need to insure their bodies ahead of the potential threat of rape or incest. 

'Wtf is rape insurance? They have to insure their bodies like their damn cars???? What the f***????' said one Twitter user. Others suggested that if women are forced to pay rape insurance, men should have to pay potential rapist insurance. 

Abortion is already banned from insurance policies in states such as  Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Utah, according to a report from Guttmacher.org.

'As a firm believer in Texas values I am proud to sign legislation that ensures no Texan is ever required to pay for a procedure that ends the life of an unborn child,' said Governor Abbott in a statement from the Texas Governor's Office. 

'This bill prohibits insurance providers from forcing Texas policy holders to subsidise elective abortions.'

'I am grateful to the Texas legislature for getting this bill to my desk, and working to protect innocent life this special session.'

There have already been calls to repeal the bill. 

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Last week, Bill called BBC Radio Solent during Alex Dyke’s mid-morning show.

Bill is a 95-year old man who decided to pick up the phone and give the show a call because he felt quite lonely. “He called up to say he was lonely and he missed [his wife],” producer Chris Hitchings told BuzzFeed News

“I don’t think he had anyone else to talk to.”

Bill has been a fan of the show for a long time and when the team heard his story they knew they had to do something. They arranged for a taxi to collect Bill and bring him to the station.

He joined the show and quickly became the “star”. 

Regular listeners of the show welcomed Bill immediately. They rang in non-stop for the chance to speak to the special guest. “He’s such a nice guy and was lovely,” Hitchings added.

We’re not crying, honestly we’re not crying. 

Bill and his wife has been friends for over 30 years. They had only gotten married last year. 

She had recently been admitted to hospital after taking a bad fall. Bill could unfortunately not provide the care she needed and was sent to a nursing home. 

He visits her every day but still missing her very much. He was apparently thrilled with the company of the listeners and the team behind the show.

You can listen to his call below. Fair warning, this will probably give you more feelings than you know what to do with:

Bill phoned BBC Radio Solent. He was upset, lonely and missing his wife.Alex decided to invite him in.We sent a cab to pick him up, have a listen to what happened next.

Posted by BBC Radio Solent on Wednesday, 21 October 2015

 

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