‘Free Christians from equality legislation’

‘Free Christians from equality legislation’

Northern Ireland politician Paul Givan is calling for amendments to equality legislation after a Christian bakery, Ashers, was told to pay compensation or face court following its refusal to bake a cake with a pro-gay slogan.

Givan is a member of the deeply-homophobic Democratic Unionist Party. A while back he said he was said he was “appalled” by a question posed in an email by Dr Graham Ellison, a Queen’s University academic.

Who knows how many gays and lesbian young people in Northern Ireland have committed suicide because of this bloody party?

Givan wants to add a “conscience clause” to current equality legislation, by bringing forward a private member’s bill at Stormont, which he hopes would prevent cases similar to that of the bakery to occur in the future.

The Justice Committee chair, who last year had to pay “substantial” libel damages to former Police Ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan, said that the case had caused him to examine current legislation.

I think there needs to be absolute clarity on this. There needs to be an enhancement made of equality legislation and that’s what I intend to bring forward in a private member’s bill.

The Equality Commission are wrong in terms of their interpretation of the law. But, obviously, if it is a grey area it needs to be clarified and I am going to do that through the private member’s bill and I trust people will recognise it for what it is.

He is quoted in this report as saying:

This clause will enhance equality legislation. Equality is about ensuring that everybody in society is allowed to live out their lives.

We now are heading towards a community where it’s not just about live and let live – people are now saying, ‘you need to affirm my particular lifestyle and if that goes against your conscience, you have to do that’.

That’s not equality; that’s intolerance.

He has the backing of First Minister Peter Robinson, who told delegates at the DUP conference:

I have become increasingly alarmed at the uneven pitch upon which rights and equality issues are played out. More and more the balance is tipped against people of faith.

This has been recently demonstrated by the treatment meted out to the Ashers Baking Company.

I believe in freedom of conscience. There will often be competing rights and freedoms but, nobody should be compelled or coerced into supporting, sanctioning or promoting views or opinions which conflict with their strongly held religious convictions.

The publicly-funded Equality Commission has launched an unjustified attack on a small Christian family business. This is simply bullying.

I contend that the Equality Commission is seeking to use the Ashers case to add a further layer of restrictions on Christian behaviour and practice.

In an unprecedented move, Robinson also called for DUP members to come forward to contribute to the bakery’s legal costs.

Northern Ireland already lags far behind the rest of the UK on equality measures – banning same-sex marriage and refusing to lift the lifetime ban on gay men giving blood.

Ashers was founded in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, in 1992. The Christian directors oversee six shops in Northern Ireland and employ around 60 people.
The company was named after a verse from the Bible, which refers to ‘Bread from Asher’.

In July, it emerged they had received an order for a cake with the slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’ and a picture of the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie.

The requested cake as it was eventually produced by a different bakery. Photo: Facebook/QueerSpace Belfast

The requested cake as it was eventually produced by a different bakery.
Photo: Facebook/QueerSpace Belfast

The manager of the business, Daniel McArthur, said they had to contact the customer to decline the request because it went against their Christian beliefs about marriage.

He said they then received a letter from the Equality Commission accusing them of discrimination and saying they could end up in court.

Earlier this month, the owner was instructed by the Commission to pay compensation or face court action.

In a letter, the company was told that if it did not offer compensation within seven days it would face litigation.

15 responses to “‘Free Christians from equality legislation’”

  1. Trevor Blake says:

    “nobody should be compelled or coerced into supporting, sanctioning or promoting views or opinions which conflict with their strongly held religious convictions.”

    And that’s why government sanction for religious schools should be ended. Oops, as always, religionists fail to think through what they say and do

  2. Laura Roberts says:

    Nobody is forcing them to run a business that, among other things, promotes customers’ slogans. Businesses have to adapt to new laws all the time, so why should their business be exempt?

  3. Paul Cook says:

    For thousands of years religions have forced people to conform to its/their society, an unequal society. They demand ‘Primus Inter Partes’, First Amongst Equals. Forced people to believe or play make believe on pain of death or at best simply mutilated or shunned. Killed for not believing in a patently false concept dressed up as fact and truth.

    Now these people want to continue to be First Amongst Equals, force their views onto others, or get special treatment in what is now an equal society, but for what? For failing to bake a cake.

  4. AgentCormac says:

    Dare I say that people like Givan and Robinson want to have their cake and eat it?

  5. Angela_K says:

    The word “equal” has become a bit of a banned expletive among the religious who as always ignore bits of their bible such as “do unto others” etc.

    Any concession of equality law to the religious is dangerous because as we know, they’ll push any exemption so that a religious Doctor, Nurse, Fireman can refuse to help a Gay person, Atheist, Black person etc.

  6. Newspaniard says:

    Does this guy realize that there are droves of islamofascists queuing up behind him, swords at the ready so that they can slice bits off infidels’ bodies because their religion says it’s OK. Be careful what you wish for, Paul Givan there are many others whom believe that they also should be “more” equal.

  7. David Anderson says:

    We are all equal. except for pigs who are more equal tan others Mr. Givan

  8. David Anderson says:

    Found the h

  9. jay says:

    I don’t agree with any religious exemption of any kind.

    However I believe no one regardless of religion should be forced to enter a contract like this against their will. Cake slogans does not rise to the level of essential and critical services.

    It’s not a free society when people can invoke the government on you because you don’t want to decorate a cake.

  10. L.Long says:

    Hobby Lobby and other examples are spreading. And with the criminal politicians & Liars4jesus in power in many places and also scared spit-less that they will catch the gay virus, things are going to be worse. If the battle against the gay succeeds in even small ways, they may well start pushing harder against the evil satanic atheists.

  11. Paul Cook says:

    But that’s the very reason public policy demands equality no matter what the issue is. You are right it’s just a cake- but where would it end if anyone could and they would – opt out or opt in whenever any one chose?
    Equality and justice has to be blind – it cannot be any other way. It must be there for all and against all. Levels of perceived ‘wrongs’ or sliding scales can’t be the issue.

    The fact that you might not agree with it – or me- or anyone else – is not the point, but he fact we can honestly disagree is fantastic and something to be treasured- the issue has to be a policy of equality no matter who we are. And I think that is most important. The cake isn’t the issue it’s the greater issue of public policy and humanity. And in that there must be equality.

  12. Cali Ron says:

    What the cake said is not really the point. Making a cake for someone with a slogan or whatever doesn’t mean you are endorsing what the cake says. Your just making the decorations. What would your personal beliefs have to do with it. No one made the shop support their position, just make the cake. This shit is ignorant. Are they afraid that if they write the word ‘gay’ they might turn into one. Or their invisible super power will strike them dead with a lightning bolt. Xtians sure are a fragile lot, so easily offended while oblivious to how they are offending others.

    I’m so tired of the religious rants of “Gay marriage is destroying the institution of marriage”, whatever that’s supposed to mean and all the other “we’re being persecuted” xtian angst. PLEEEEEASE!

  13. Bubblecar says:

    I can’t see that religious believers are facing any discrimination in these examples. Religious bakers have to serve gay customers and straight customers. Atheist bakers have to serve gay customers and straight customers. There is no discrimination here against religious bakers. There is no sense in which “the balance is tipped against people of faith.”

    It might be argued that “people of faith” tend to be mean-spirited types who want to discriminate against people they don’t like. Thus by enforcing anti-discrimination legislation we are causing greater “pain” to religious people than to nicer people, and that means we’re “discriminating” against them. But again we need to insist that atheists are also not allowed to discriminate against people they don’t like. That’s the whole point of anti-discrimination law: discriminating against people you don’t like (in the provision of goods and services etc) is regarded as anti-social behaviour that needs to be discouraged by legislation. Again, one could say that discouraging anti-social behaviour is “discriminating against anti-social people”, but a necessary by-product of having laws against people behaving badly is that people who have a tendency to behave badly (in this case, because they subscribe to beliefs that exhort them to behave badly) – will fall foul of these laws more frequently than people who don’t.

  14. Maggie says:

    What I’m hearing is “Legitimise my intolerance!”

  15. […] case of Ashers bakery in Northern Ireland, which got into trouble for refusing to put the words “Support Gay Marriage” on a cake – plus […]