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Religious Tolerance logo

2014: Belfast, Northern Ireland:

"Freedom to discriminate" court case
involving a cake celebrating gay marriage.

Local conservative Christians support the
discrimination against a customer by the bakery.

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Part 2 of four parts

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same-sex couple    gay wedding

Wedding cake toppers

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This topic is continued here from the previous essay

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The Christian Institute created the following video in support of the bakery, which was posted on the Pink News web site:

 16

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2014: The scope of the current anti-discrimination laws in Northern Ireland:

"Atalanta," a reader of the Pink News article, posted the following informative text:

"By taking this to court, the bakery is only wasting Christian Concern's money. Personally, I hope they waste as much of it as possible.

And here's why.

Queerspace is protected in TWO WAYS under legislation in Northern Ireland.

1) As in the rest of the UK, discrimination in provision of services on the grounds of sexual orientation is illegal.

2) Arguably, this was not about the orientation of the customer but about the political message on the cake. (This argument is a non-starter when people are refused wedding cakes, but this was not a wedding cake -- it was a campaign cake.) But in Northern Ireland, discrimination in provision of services on the grounds of political opinion is ALSO illegal. This is not the case in the rest of the UK.

To quote the relevant guidance:

'Political opinion.. may include political opinions relating to the conduct or government of the state, or matters of policy, eg, conservative or socialist political opinions.'

In fact, in Northern Ireland, religious belief and political opinion are treated as largely equivalent in anti-discrimination law. Consequently in Northern Ireland, Queerspace has exactly the same right to get their cake as Christian Concern has to get a cake from a Muslim baker reading 'Christ is our saviour', or indeed to get a cake from a gay baker reading 'Marriage = 1 man + 1 woman'. It is also the same right that nationalists have to get a cake reading 'Ireland = 32 counties' or that unionists have to get a cake reading 'UK=GB+NI'.

Banning discrimination on the grounds of political opinion is is a fundamental plank of the peace process in Northern Ireland, and the chances of the courts overturning it are absolutely zero, even if Mr McArthur received an engraved command from Jesus telling him not to bake this cake." 11

The "peace process" to which "atalanta" referred involved the negotiations that ended "the troubles" in Northern Ireland. This was a difficult three decades of violence between 1968 and 1998 that involved a conflict over the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. That involved whether it was to become part of Ireland or remain as part of the United KIngdom. Over 3,600 died; on the order of 50,000 were injured. The conflict was settled in favor of preserving the union with the UK.

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2015-MAR-24/26: A rally and an interview before the court hearing:

A rally in support of Ashers Bakery was held in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast, on 2015-MAR-24.

The 2,500 seat hall was filled to capacity with bakery supporters. Hundreds more had to be turned away at the door. 6

On MAR-26, immediately before the first day of the court hearing, defendant Daniel McArthur said:

"Ashers is, and always has been, willing to serve any and every customer who comes through our doors. We love serving people.

Our problem with producing the cake we were asked to make last year was with the message, not the customer.

We just didn’t want to be forced to use our creative skills to help endorse and promote a campaign message that went against our sincerely held religious beliefs. We are just trying to be faithful to the Bible. [Emphasis by the editor of this essay.]

"We think it is wrong to use the laws to force anyone to say something that they oppose and hope that the court will take the same view. ..."

"There are obviously big issues at stake, not for just us, about things like freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. It's not easy for us being in the middle of all this. We wish it hadn't happened. But I would like to thank all our friends and family, and Christians from all over the British Isles and beyond for their prayers and their support. We have been truly humbled by the support we have received from people from all walks of life. We don't know what the outcome of the case will be but we do know that God is faithful and we place our trust in him." 12

He appears to agree with Colin Hart of the Christian Institute that to create a cake that contains any message would automatically be interpreted by the public as if the baker actively endorses that message -- no matter what it said.

Jilly Beattie, writing for Belfast Live web site, said that Daniel McArthur:

"... with his wife Amy by his side, said he has been humbled by support from fellow Christians as he arrived at Belfast County Court to fight a challenge by Northern Ireland's Equality Commission."

District Judge Isobel Brownlie presided at the hearing. 6

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. Photograph Lisafx, downloaded from Dreamstime.com - Gay Marriage Ceremony - Rings Photo
  2. "About Us," Queer Space, 2015, at: http://www.queerspace.org.uk/
  3. Henry McDonald, "‘Gay cake’ order taken to avoid embarrassment, court told," The Guardian, 2015-MAR-27, at: https://www.theguardian.com/
  4. Gerry Moriarty, "Bakers ‘felt as Christians’ they could not write pro-gay slogan," The Irish Times, 2015-MAR-27, at: http://www.irishtimes.com/
  5. "Belfast bakers lose appeal in discrimination case after refusing to bake ‘gay marriage’ cake," Life Site News, 2016-OCT-25, at: https://www.lifesitenews.com/
  6. Gerry Moriarty, "Waterfront rally in support of Ashers bakery draws thousands," The Irish Times, 2015-MAR-24, at: http://www.irishtimes.com/
  7. The Christian Institute's web site is at: http://www.christian.org.uk/
  8. "Man sues bakery over refusal to make ‘same-sex marriage’ cake," The Irish Times, 2015-MAR-26, at: http://www.irishtimes.com/
  9. "Judge Fines Bakery For Refusing To Make This Cake," Think Progress, 2015-MAY-19, at: https://thinkprogress.org/
  10. Joseph Patrick McCorick, "Ashers Bakery owner: We have not done anything wrong and will not close," Pink News, 2015-MAY-19. at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
  11. "Asher's Baking Company rsponds to gay marriage cake row,' Pink News, 2014-JUL-08, at: http://belfasttelegraph.bbvms.com/
  12. Jillie Beattie, "Ashers baker places his trust in God as he steps into court over gay cake row," Belfast Live, 2015-MAR-26, at: http://www.belfastlive.co.uk/
  13. Gerry Moriarty, "Waterfront rally in support of Ashers bakery draws thousands," The Irish Times, 2015-MAR-24, at: http://www.irishtimes.com/
  14. Gerry Moriarty, "Bakers ‘felt as Christians’ they could not write pro-gay slogan," The Irish Times, 2015-MAR-27, at: http://www.irishtimes.com/
  15. "Asher's Baking Company responds to gay marriage cake row,' Pink News, 2014-JUL-08, at: http://belfasttelegraph.bbvms.com/

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How you may have arrived here:

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Home>Hot rel. topics>Homosexuality/Bisexuality>Discriminate>N. Ireland > here

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 Home > "Hot" topics > Transgender topics > N. Ireland > here

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Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-OCT-27
Latest update : 2016-OCT-27
Author: B.A. Robinson

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