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UK lawmakers back gay marriage, abortion access for NIreland

LONDON — British lawmakers have voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriages and expanding abortion access in Northern Ireland, though the vote won’t automatically lead to changing laws.

Northern Ireland has its own legislature, which did not follow the British and Scottish parliaments in allowing same-sex marriages starting in 2014. Abortion access also is severely restricted there.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended for more than two years amid a dispute between the major Protestant and Catholic parties, leaving Britain’s Parliament to make some key decisions.

On Tuesday, British lawmakers supported the opposition Labour Party’s calls for Parliament to vote on expanding abortion and same-sex marriage rights if Northern Ireland’s assembly is not up and running by Oct. 21.

If the Belfast assembly reconvenes, it could overturn actions taken in London.

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