Ruth Davidson Wouldn't Have Been Able To Do This In One Country In The UK

It's unlikely to change soon...
<strong>Ruth Davidson (Right) and her parter Jen Wilson (Left)</strong>
Ruth Davidson (Right) and her parter Jen Wilson (Left)
Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

The leader of the Scottish Conservative party has announced her engagement to her partner.

Ruth Davidson confirmed the news on Twitter and received a warm reaction from her followers.

But the politician would not have been able to make the same proposal in one country in the UK, Northern Ireland.

In 2015 a referendum in Ireland left its northern neighbour as the last place in the UK where a ban on same-sex marriage is still in place.

Meanwhile Scottish politics has flourished in LGBT-inclusion with Holyrood becoming the most proportionally gay-friendly parliament in the world.

Davidson is one of four openly-gay party leaders in Scotland and the total number of openly gay, lesbian and bisexual politicians counts at ten, 7% of all MSPs. In Westminster, 35 of the 650 MPs - just over 5%.

The progression in LGBT-friendly politics in the country was highlighted by Annie Wells, a newly elected MSP.

“I get more abuse for being a Tory in Scotland than I do for being a gay woman,” Wells told the Huffington Post UK.

Concurrently in Northern Ireland, hopes of equal marriage were dashed as May's elections saw the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) remain as the largest party.

The DUP won 38 seats compared to Sinn Fein’s 28, the Ulster Unionists 16, SDLP’s 12 and the Alliance Party’s eight.

Last year the Northern Irish Assembly backed equal marriage by a vote of 53 to 51, but the DUP used peace process powers to override the decision and block the amendment for a fifth time.

Some have accused the party of abusing powers to 'veto' marriage legislation despite clear majority support.

Director of The Rainbow Project, John O’Doherty said: "It is true that the DUP have abused the petition of concern to block this vote and are now ignoring the will of the Assembly and the people of Northern Ireland."

Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP
Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP

Some hoped that the election of new leader Arlene Foster would soften the stance of the DUP.

However after the release of its 2016 manifesto, a spokesperson said: "The party supports the traditional definition of marriage of one man and one woman, and we have voted along those lines many times."

In contrast, Sinn Féin, the second largest party and dominant Irish nationalist party, supports LGBT rights.

University of Aberdeen's Bernadette C. Hayes and John Nagle wrote a report which found that nationalist parties support those rights as part of their broader agenda on equality, while unionists view them as a means deployed by nationalists to attack unionist identity.

"Sinn Féin states: ‘[nationalists] are only too well aware of what it means to be treated as second-class citizens. Our politics are the results of decades of resistance to marginalisation and discrimination’

By contrast, The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – the main unionist party – has adopted a deeply negative stance on LGBT rights, including using the ‘communal veto’ to quash same-sex marriage legislation on three occasions since 2013"

Kezia Dugale (Right) with her partner Louise Riddell (Left).
Kezia Dugale (Right) with her partner Louise Riddell (Left).
Matt Cardy via Getty Images

As the debate on marriage equality in Northern Ireland continues, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon led the charge in wishing congratulations to Davidson on her engagement.