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Gay cake saga has highlighted other issues

IT is common ground that we are ultimately right to protect certain groups, minorities or not, from unjustified discrimination in the provision of goods and services to the public.

Exceptions need to be overwhelmingly convincing.

There is nothing special about strongly-held views that derive from religious beliefs, or from interpretation of ancient religious texts.

That a person holds strong views against such protection is not grounds for an exception; it does not even come close.

Whether the wearing of a motorcycle helmet is the proper subject of criminal law is a fair subject for debate.

But crucially no other group is disadvantaged by the exception granted to Sikhs.

In these key respects, Paul Givan's paper is flawed.

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However, the recent cake decoration case may expose a more fundamental issue.

Limitations upon the right to freedom of expression also need to be convincing; this applies, too, to the right to silence.

For me, it is quite clear that no person should be required by law to print, or publish, any slogan or message.

A lawful refusal to publish should not need even to be based on strongly-held views.

Perhaps this approach would offer a fairer, more feasible way forward.


Holywood, Co Down