Cake row not a matter of faith, but one of liberty
In a world where the Equality Commission advises businesses and organisations to maintain a neutral working environment, where it advises business to restrict what employees can wear in work and where it demands restrictions on flags and emblems, how can the same Equality Commission oppose the actions of Ashers Bakery?
As a Christian, who is not wholly comfortable with the role of the Christian Institute and other fundamental groups in the debate around freedoms, the decision of the Equality Commission to prosecute Ashers appears perverse.
Rather than focusing solely on the religious freedom aspect of the (alleged) 'gay' cake row, surely there is a wider general context? Surely, in a modern, tolerant and free society, no one should be forced to produce products they deem inappropriate or offensive?
Should, say, a clothing manufacturer be prosecuted for refusing to produce clothing with politically motivated slogans? What if a printer had refused to print the recent unionist leaflet that condemned the Alliance Party for their stance on the Union flag issue? Should they have been prosecuted?
For me, this is not a matter of faith or religion, but it is a matter of freedom and liberty. Businesses must be able to operate within clear norms.
Yes, Ashers cannot be allowed to refuse to bake cakes for members of the LGBT community, but they should not be forced, by the Equality Commission (or anyone else) to produce politically motivated material in support of any particular stance.
Rarely in the UK do we have examples of bad law, but we do have many examples of bad case law and this case may just become that.
Should the Equality Commission win this week, then we all lose. Freedom has been hard won, but freedoms used to coerce is tyranny.
NOT A ZEALOT
Portadown, Co Armagh