The Christian Institute, which is supporting Ashers Bakery in Belfast, commissioned the legal opinion of Aidan O’Neill QC on the “gay cake row”. In a document published on the “coalition for marriage” website summarising his legal opinion on gay marriage and the controversial liberty of conscience bill he outlines his thoughts and concerns about the upcoming legal battle.
Mr O’Neill said “If the approach of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland were correctly based in law (which I do not consider it to be) then on the basis that the law does not protect the fundamental right — within the commercial context of supplying services — to hold opinions nor guarantee any negative freedom of expression, there would be no defence to similar actions being taken against individuals or companies supplying services”
The barrister also presents six scenarios where companies would have no legal defence if the Equality Commission case were to succeed.
• A Muslim printer refusing a contract requiring the printing of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed;
• An atheist web designer refusing to design a website presenting as scientific fact the claim that God made the world in six days;
• A Christian film company refusing to produce a “feminist/female-gaze” erotic film;
• A Christian baker refusing to take an order to make a cake celebrating Satanism;
• A T-shirt company owned by lesbians declining to print T-shirts with a message describing gay marriage as an “abomination”;
• A printing company run by Catholics declining an order to produce adverts calling for abortion on demand to be legalised.
Ashers has the backing of the Christian Institute’s Legal Defence Fund which supports Christians facing difficulties for holding to their religious beliefs in an increasingly secular society. The fund is seeking donations to cover the costs of their homophobic legal campaign.
It appears the Christian Institute has resorted to promoting proposterous scenarios in order to raise support for their homophobic views.
These scare tactics are simply another way for the Institute to twist the conscience clause debate to suit their agenda.
We see the argument against the conscience clause as being straight-forward. The LGBT community does not want to be treated as second class citizens simply because they are not heterosexual.
It is not a choice to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender. It is a choice however to go out of your way to insult a muslim by asking him to depict the prophet Mohammed or for a satanist to antagonise a Christian by asking him to bake a cake with satanic images on it.
Marriage equality is not a tool used to cause hurt or insult religious groups.
The affair hit the headlines last year when Ashers Baking Company declined an order from a gay rights organisation asking for a cake featuring the Sesame Street puppets, Bert and Ernie. The customer also wanted the cake to feature the logo of Belfast-based campaign group- “Queerspace” with the inscription “Support Gay Marriage”. Ashers said it had declined the request because it was “at odds” with its Christian beliefs.
Coalition for marriage:
The Coalition for Marriage is an umbrella group of individuals and organisations in the UK that support traditional marriage and are opposed its redefinition. The Coalition reaches out to people of all faiths and none, who believe that marriage is the most successful partnership in history and that it should not have been redefined.