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Ashers court ruling has set dreadful precedent

Published 27/05/2015

In the light of the recent legal ruling that a Christian bakery is to be penalised for refusing a commission to bake a cake celebrating gay marriage, ask yourself which of the following you would also be in favour of:

1) A gay bakery being penalised in law for refusing to ice Old Testament or Koran verses against homosexuality on to a cake intended for a conservative Christian, Jewish or Muslim event.

2) A Jewish bakery being penalised in law for refusing to ice anti-Semitic imprecations on to a cake for a neo-Nazi, radical traditionalist Catholic or Islamist event.

3) A Palestinian bakery being penalised in law for refusing to ice a celebration of the anniversary of the State of Israel on to a cake for a Zionist organisation.

Noam Chomsky noted that "if we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all", but this applies no less to freedoms of belief and conscience. The gay couple in question were always free to express their beliefs: they could have sought out a baker sympathetic to their views to ice their cake, or iced it themselves.

Instead, they used the law to force a person to express views he finds abhorrent. This issue has nothing to do with "equality" and everything to do with freedom of belief, conscience and expression - it being an implacable attack on these latter. It sets a dreadful precedent.


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