Perhaps the oddest News Story ever.
For an Anti-Homophobia Reception, a man goes into a Belfast Bakery and orders a cake. Featuring Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street. Today I learn that these are Gay Icons. And they would also like the logo of the Gay Rights organisation “Queer Sense” embedded in the cake. All seems harmless enough. Except the Bakery is Christian-owned and they refuse the order as they….are not overly keen on Gay Rights.
Happily the Cake is baked in Bangor. But a complaint has been made to the Equality Commission and they are looking into it. It might even end up in Court.
1… While FUNDAMENTALIST Christians seem to have a problem with Gay Rights, the majority of mainstream Christians do not.
2… The word “Queer” is I consider “offensive” and even though strident Gay Rights activists have reclaimed it, I am not entirely happy with that. Has a Bakery or (say) a Printer got the right to refuse to bake or print it?
3…Clearly it would be wrong for a Business Owner to disrespect a Customer, based on (say) Sexual Orientation but is it wrong for a Customer to disrespect the ethos of a business. For example, it would obviously be wrong for a Baker to refuse an order for a cake for a Christening, a Barmitzvah, a First Communion or to mark the end of Ramadan. But would it be permissible to refuse to bake the risqué symbolism in a “Hen Party-Bachelorette” cake?
4…The Queer Sense logo makes it a cake which promotes or at least mentions a CAMPAIGN. And I suggest that is beyond the Bakers remit. To refuse to bake a “DUP Cake” or “SDLP Cake” seems reasonable. Or what about a “Pro Choice Cake”. Some feminists might be outraged if a “Christian” Bakery did not take the order. They might be outraged if the Bakery baked a “Pro Life Cake”.
I think the best parallel is printing a political leaflet. Nearly two years ago, leaflets circulated in East Belfast, which were hostile , indeed vitriolic about the Alliance Party. Alliance members might well have been grateful if a Printer refused the order for 40,000 leaflets.
Which makes it rather odd that the most public face of the Gay Rights campaigners who are protesting is Councillor Andrew Muir of the er……….Alliance Party. Muir is gay, possibly the most publicly gay politician in Norn Iron and has just recently completed a term as Mayor of Bangor in North Down. The anti-Homophobia Reception was hosted by Muir…in Bangor. So why not simply go to a Bangor bakery in the first place.
Andy Muir is a popular politician, much loved by South Belfasts LetsgetAlongerist , MetroTextual tweeters but just a little too inclined to play “the only gay in the village” card.
I am surprised that the Equality Commission has taken on this case. I will be even more surprised if it is settled in favour of the Gay Rights activists. Let’s not forget that in Norn Iron, the Gay and Lesbian and Transgendered Communities suffer terribly from misunderstanding, hatred and even violence. They need the support of decent men and women, including mainstream Christians.
This kinda nonsense does them…or us…few favours.
Is this any different from the B&B refusals which went as far as the Supreme Court?
A good point.
But surely its generational.
certainly there would have been a problem 40 years ago if an unmarried couple tried to sign into a hotel.
And 20 years ago a gay couple might have had a problem.
Those battles are largely won.
As B&Bs unique selling point is a “home” then I think that deserves some tolerance. A Hotel is different.
Respect is a two way street.
Legally I think they do have the right, they certainly used to. No shop can be forced to serve anyone they don’t want, no bus driver can be forced to take a passenger they don’t want on their bus. This used to be the law things may have changed but if they have I think that is unreasonable .
Yes but I wonder if its in part generational.
Consumer Rights seem to have gone too far.
The Bus Driver example is a good one but these days, I wonder just how much backing a driver would get from his employer.
Not much not so long ago we all seemed to understand that if a shop chose not to sell or a bus driver to carry a passenger that was their choice and their right. Now it seems to be reversed, but I doubt the law has changed it will still be there so as not to frighten the horses at such a loss of independence but now there will be bits added cancelling the right of choice,
This seems a totally synthetic controversy.
There is a big difference between a Corporate Hotel and a Family B&B.
And certainly in Norn Iron there is a difference in the corporate world of High Street stores and family establishments.
Going into a shopping mall is a fairly neutral thing.
But there is a Scotch Street and Irish Street mentality in a lot of towns. ..
I lived in one such town and was “reprimanded” for not supporting “our chemist” and “our newsagent”.
The most depressing aspect was that the shopkeepers themselves EXPECTED this.
Yes you describe an attitude much encouraged here in Ireland.
The law goes back to the days when there were few if any shopping chains and no supermarkets. I myself can remember when Sainsbury was our local shop. The big supermarkets are relatively recent as are the big hotel chains.
I disagree that anyone should be obliged to provide a service to anyone they don’t want to serve. It should be a free choice. Its not as if there is a shortage of alternatives.
WILL HE EVER LEARN?
But…to refuse to produce a cake for someone because he or she was a Moslem or Jew would be discriminatory and probably illegal. To refuse to produce a cake for someone because the person was a woman would be discriminatory and almost certainly illegal. So to deny custom to someone because of their (perfectly legal) sexuality… Well there is an argument that it would be discriminatory and possibly illegal.
That said if someone refused to produce a cake for a hunter because they disagreed with hunting. Well hunting is technically legal. So would that be discriminatory?
An argument with many contradictions.
I had actually thought of the Hunting one yesterday.
If the Baker was a foxhunter and the Customer was a a hunt opponent that would be illegal.
But if the animal rights activist wanted “Ban Foxhunting” on cake.
Its full of contradictions.
Does anyone know if Andrew muir is from the catholic community?
No idea. He is apparently a former member of SDLP.
I agree with the comments posted on facebook by Suzanne Breen
“I’m strongly pro-gay marriage but I’ll defend the Christian bakery on this one. Nobody should be forced to produce an item carrying a political slogan with which they disagree. Imagine the uproar if Catholic bakers were forced to make ‘Support the Orange Order’ cakes, Protestant bakers ‘Support Sinn Fein’ cakes, gay bakers ‘Oppose Gay Marriage’ cakes?. It would be different if the bakery had refused to serve a gay person or produce an ordinary cake for them but freedom of conscience must apply when it comes to political slogans”
Shopkeepers have to respect Customers.
But Customers have to respect Shopkeepers.