Ashers To Ashers: Northern Ireland cakes shop makes muppets for Christians
Ashers Baking Company didn’t want to bake a cake decorated with slogans supporting gay marriage. The Northern Ireland bakery doesn’t want to make a statement about gay marriage, which remains illegal in the country. It also goes againt their religious convictions as Christians. So. Thanks for your enquiry but no thanks.
The shop named after one of the 12 tribes of Israel thanks you for your interest.
That would be the end of it. But Ashers, based in Newtownabbey, upset / annoyed / triggered LGBT activist Gareth Lee. He wanted a cake with Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie, the slogan “support gay marriage” and the logo of campaigning group QueerSpace. And he complained that he had “suffered unlawful religious, political and sexual orientation discrimination”.
But was he really treated less favourably by Ashers than they would treat heterosexuals asking for the same cake? Was he refused because he was gay? No. He wasn’t. The shop will serve gays.
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland wrote to Ashers. It said Ashers was discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation. And that’s a crime. Ashers should “remedy your illegal discrimination” within seven days or be taken to court.
A spokesman for the Rainbow Project tells Russia Today:
“The Equality Commission have made a very reasoned application of the law and were right to say legally the bakery was wrong to deny service to this customer. We’re in an untenable situation here where a Northern Irish gay couple can go anywhere else in the UK and get married, but when they return home their marriage is reclassified as a civil partnership without their consent. This throws up all sorts of constitutional issues for the UK.”
But the cake, dude. This is about Ashers and their rights to be free willed.
Human rights lawyer Aidan O’Neill QC says that is Ashers wins there is legal defence for “a Muslim printer refusing a contract requiring the printing of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed”.
That sound fair enough. There are other printers. There are other bakers.
Colin Hart, director of the Christian Institute, is upset:
“This is a truly alarming case with far-reaching implications for freedom of speech. It’s wrong for the law to force people to say things they don’t believe. Ashers serve gay customers all the time. But they didn’t want to promote gay marriage.”
The most important fact to establish, first of all, is that gay marriage does not exist in Northern Ireland, and this is vital for discerning what the ruling should be. Given that gay marriage does not exist in Northern Ireland, you cannot discriminate against someone on the grounds that they are or are not in a same-sex marriage. Further, because gay marriage has been voted down by the Northern Ireland Assembly, and because a recent ECtHR ruling states clearly that gay marriage is not a human right per se (it is only a right once it is in place in a country), discrimination on the grounds of being in or not being in a gay marriage simply does not exist as a concept in Northern Ireland (though, of course, it does in Scotland and England & Wales).
That all means that a slogan such as “Support Gay Marriage” is a political statement, not an equalities-based statement. Gay marriage is a concept that is not an automatic right (see theECtHR judgment) but is rather a legislative decision by the relevant authority. If the plaintiff wants to argue that the baker should be forced to create a cake with the political slogan “Support Gay Marriage”, then he is essentially arguing that all political slogans should be forced upon cake decorators with no right of veto. Try “Bring back Slavery” or “Vote UKIP” or “Introduce Infanticide”, and apply the same argument…
Making it a ‘Religion-versus-Homosexuality’ debate undermines the actual legal issues involved and damages the real issues of religious rights and discrimination when they do occur (for example, the current British Red Cross case). Furthermore, by fighting this issue on the right to hold a view (the traditional Christian view) rather than fighting it on the right to reject providing a service for a political campaign (saying ‘no’ to a cake with a political slogan you don’t agree with), there is actually the danger that the bakers will lose. That kind of judgement would have real consequences for those men and women who are victimised in this country for their religious beliefs, and it would come about because of the Christian Institute putting slogans and PR above proper legal support.
But something nags. There appears to be an agenda to ban minority or less fashionable views and behaviours. Intolerance rules. And it’s backed by the State, which seeks to contol everything, to create and enforce a set of sanctioned beliefs. So. Ice the cake, or else. Print the T-shirt of Mohammed bowing before an aryan Jesus, or else? Because not doing it means you are backward…
Says old Mr Anorak: take their money. It’s business.