Main | Tuesday, May 19, 2015

NORTHERN IRELAND: Anti-Gay Bakery Found Guilty Of Discrimination

Not the best timing for Friday's referendum in the south. Via the Independent:
A Christian-owned bakery which refused to make a cake carrying a pro-gay marriage slogan has been found guilty of discrimination after a landmark legal action. The Northern Ireland Equality Commission brought the case against Ashers Baking Company on behalf of Gareth Lee, the gay rights activist whose order was declined. Giving her ruling at Belfast County Court today district judge Isobel Brownlie said: "The defendants have unlawfully discriminated against the plaintiff on grounds of sexual discrimination. "This is direct discrimination for which there can be no justification." Mr Lee, a member of the LGBT advocacy group Queer Space, had wanted a cake featuring Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie with the slogan Support Gay Marriage for a private function marking International Anti Homophobia Day. The high profile legal case, which divided public opinion in Belfast and beyond, was heard over three days in March.
More from the BBC:
John O'Doherty, of gay rights group the Rainbow Project, said: "While sympathetic as some may be to the position in which the company finds itself, this does not change the facts of the case. "The judge clearly articulated that this is direct discrimination for which there can be no justification." However DUP MLA Paul Givan, who has proposed that lawmakers in the Northern Ireland Assembly introduce a "conscience clause" as a result of the Ashers case, said many Christians would view the ruling as "an attack" on their religious convictions. "What we cannot have is a hierarchy of rights, and today there's a clear hierarchy being established that gay rights are more important than the rights of people to hold religious beliefs," Mr Givan added. Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister said it was "a dark day for justice and religious freedom in Northern Ireland".
(Tipped by JMG reader Gerard)

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