Belfast Telegraph

Gay Cake: DUP MLA to launch Private Member's Bill to introduce 'conscience clause' into aspects of equality law

Mayor Andrew Muir cutting a Sesame Street Bert and Ernie 'Support Gay Marriage' cake
Mayor Andrew Muir cutting a Sesame Street Bert and Ernie 'Support Gay Marriage' cake
DUP MLA Paul Givan

A DUP MLA is set to launch his Private Member's Bill to introduce a 'conscience clause' into aspects of equality law in a bid to accommodate those with strong religious beliefs.

It comes after family-run Ashers Baking Company - which is based in Newtownabbey - was told it discriminated against a gay rights activist by declining to include a slogan that said 'support gay marriage' and is being taken to court.

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland took on the case on behalf of the customer.

The cake row has made international headlines.

Speaking previously Paul Givan said he would launch a consultation on his bill, which he hoped would avoid legal actions similar to that in the Ashers 'gay cake' bakery case.

It will be launched on Monday December 8 at Stormont.

Speaking ahead of the event Mr Givan said: "The need for a ‘conscience clause’ was first highlighted by Lady Hale, Deputy President of the Supreme Court who said the UK is “less respectful” towards people with religious views than other countries, despite its long Christian traditions.

"She indicated that a conscience clause should be considered to protect those, such as Christians who have deeply and genuinely held beliefs on certain issues.

"Locally the pursuit of Ashers Bakery by the Equality Commission has highlighted the debate about how religious belief is respected and freedom of conscience.

"I am of the firm belief that reasonable accommodation should be introduced to prevent people of faith being hindered in their work by repressive legal constraints.”

The event will be chaired by MLA Arlene Foster and will be addressed by MLA Paul Givan,  Peter Lynas from the Evangelical Alliance and  First Minister Peter Robinson.

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