Coca Cola erected a giant billboard in Sydney, Australia, in the run-up to the same-sex marriage vote in the country last year (Coca Cola | Twitter)
Over two dozen businesses and employers have signed a joint letter calling for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that doesn’t have equal marriage. Same-sex marriage became law in England, Wales and Scotland in 2014.
The neighboring Republic of Ireland held a referendum to vote for marriage equality in 2015. This leaves same-sex couples in Northern Ireland with the option of civil unions only.
Lack of government in Northern Ireland
The power-sharing government in Northern Ireland – a coalition between rival parties – broke down in January 2017. The region has effectively been without government for almost 600 days, leaving advocates frustrated.
Because of this, some campaigners have called upon the UK Parliament in London to introduce legislation.
An April 2018 poll in Northern Ireland found just over three-quarters of those questioned in support of marriage equality.
Today’s letter has been supported by Coca-Cola, IBM, BT, Deloitte, Bank of Ireland, Pinsent Masons and Citi Belfast, among others.
Petre Sandru, Country Manager, of Coca-Cola Ireland commented on the initiative.
‘As one of the world’s most inclusive brands, Coca-Cola celebrates diversity, inclusion and equality.
‘This commitment not only manifests itself in our advertisements, but also in our daily operations. At Coca-Cola, we know that creating an environment where everyone can reach their full potential, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, ability or socio-economic background, is key to driving businesses forward.
‘We also believe that everyone has the right to be themselves both outside and inside the workplace, which is why we support this important initiative.’
‘An important economic argument’
The letter was organized by campaign group Love Equality.
John O’Doherty, Director of The Rainbow Project and member of the Love Equality consortium said, ‘While many of the arguments for equal marriage are based on rights and equality, there is also an important economic argument.
‘Businesses and employers across Northern Ireland are in competition for excellence with other employers across the UK and Ireland. There is a sound economic argument for marriage equality.
‘Equality, diversity and inclusion contribute to a happy and productive workforce and can help in attracting global talent to Northern Ireland. However, without full legal recognition of same sex marriages retaining and attracting talent can be difficult.’
The letter states the following:
We, the undersigned write to express our support for the extension of civil marriage in Northern Ireland.
As employers we encourage and welcome diversity and inclusion in our workforce and recognise the rights of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender employees to be themselves and to live and work, free from discrimination, prejudice or exclusion.
A diverse, outward-looking and inclusive society is essential to create a vibrant and competitive economy and a prosperous future for Northern Ireland.
To achieve that goal, we believe our people should have equal access to the same rights, entitlements, responsibilities and freedoms enjoyed elsewhere in the United Kingdom. As employers, striving to attract the best talent to Northern Ireland and to retain the skilled employees we already have, extending equal civil marriage in Northern Ireland makes sense to us.
Equality contributes to an environment of creativity and excellence where our LGB&T staff feel able to bring their whole selves to the workplace and where their relationships will be respected.
The full list of organizations to sign the letter is as follows.
- Baker McKenzie
- Bank of Ireland
- CME Group
- Hughes Insurance
- KRW Law
- Liberty IT
- Liberty Mutual Insurance
- Maverick Boombox
- McLernon Moynagh
- Pinsent Masons
- Sunflower and America Bar
- Think People
- Ulster Bank
- Coca-Cola HBC Ireland & Northern Ireland
- Coca-Cola Company Ireland & Northern Ireland
Lobbying for marriage equality worldwide
This is not the first time corporates have spoken out in favor of equality. Hundreds of the biggest corporations in the US signed an Amicus Brief in 2015 calling on the US Supreme Court to legislate in support of same-sex marriage.
Many businesses also took a public stance in support of equal marriage coming to Australia. Companies such as Qantas and Coca-Cola lobbed for equality ahead of the country’s postal vote on the issue last year. Among other activities, Coca-Cola erected a giant billboard in Sydney stating ‘Say yes … to love’