Tag Archives: gay rights

Bake Me A Cake – Opening Pandora’s Box?

A bakery in Northern Ireland was found guilty of discrimination for refusing to decorate a cake with a pro gay marriage message. The bakers cited their Christian views as a reason to refuse service. The media have exploded with “what if” someone asked a Muslim baker to decorate a cake with the picture of Mohammed on it? On the TV show “Loose Women” Nolan Coleen said what about a cake where the icing supported ISIS?

There seems to be confusion over what the Equality Act means, free speech and religious freedom. Different issues, all important as they overlap. So let me try to unpack all this in a short post. What follows is not legal advice – and any lawyers reading please feel free to comment or correct.

Ashers bakery refused an order for a cake which would have said “support gay marriage.” This failed the Equalities Act because it meant discriminating against gay people who would have wanted decorated cakes linked to being gay. Religious objections were invalid for a bakery, in a way they may not be for a religious organisation. The secular principle as workers and customers we are equal citizens first would apply.

The Mohammed on a cake example (the assumption being the Muslim would refuse service), cited by Simon Jenkins in an article and mentioned by Ian Hislop on Have I Got News For You, is not the same. Both mention a Christian asking for this decorative cake from a Muslim. Such a cake has nothing to do with being a Christian. Refusal of service would not be based on the faith of the customer, nor indirectly linked to it (as in the support gay marriage).

If you want to argue free speech means they must bake the Mohammed cake, for the baker must be detached from their creation to serve the wants of their customer, bare in mind there is no legal obligation to bake. The ISIS cake asks are there red lines that are understandable for the conscience of a baker, or are all irrelevant? Rather than call for Coleen to be sacked, I would say here is the bottom line: if it does not breach the Equalities Act, a baker can refuse service to someone. So that Mohammed or an ISIS cake could be refused, because making those cakes are not an equality issue regarding discrimination to the person asking.

There are more interesting hypotheticals that the QC defending Ashers bakery could have used instead: a Christian asking a Muslim baker to make them a batch of hot cross buns for a Church celebration at Easter or a butcher legally required to supply halal meat if asked, or would they be discriminating against muslims if they object against Islam requiring this? If the Muslim baker declined, would the law state both have protected religious characteristics. If the judgment in Northern Ireland may be read you cannot discriminate against religion, it would mean that anyone supplying a made to order service would have to supply a religious festival or dietary requirement they disapproved of if their objection was they disagreed with it.

Pandora’s cake box is opened much wider than the discussion may have led you to believe. Religious freedom either means all citizens must be catered for by services offered to the public, or services are recognised as being staffed by citizens whose religious freedom means they can refuse citing their own religious freedom to disagree in participating. The law is favouring universal service to end discrimination of customers. The question is will this lead to unintended consequences.

In summery: you cannot cite religious objections if that leads to discrimination or indirect discrimination that contravenes the Equalities Act. Being gay is a protected characteristic, as is being religious, for customers or potential customers. Denial of service by the bakery was discrimination. A Christian denied a Mohammed cake would have to prove discrimination based on their being a Christian – something which would fail the direct or indirect discrimination case in examples mentioned above. By contrast, a Muslim given a Mohammed cake might well have a case for harassment if it was known they were a Muslim that would object. A butcher may not be able to say “I disagree with Islam on this” as a reason to refuse obtaining halal meat.

Hopefully I have given you food for thought. This is one subject where it may give indigestion trying to have your cake and eat it.
Additional originally written as a comment by me:

I am explaining the Equality Act – being gay is a protected characteristic from discrimination. The judge was satisfied the defendants knew he was gay. The judge mentioned getting the non Christian employee to do the icing or sub contracting the icing to another bakery. Their main point was that if the bakery was prepared to bake a “support heterosexual cake” then it was discriminatory not to bake the other.

It should be noted reading the judgment, if the cake was meant to be shared with other gay people, even if purchaser had been heterosexual, the judge would still have held as discrimination. Also, they had agreed to bake the cake, but then changed their mind over the weekend.

I am not defending the judgment but *explaining it* and the ramifications – including how the Equality Act may be interpretated. I don’t think a Muslim baker should be compelled to make hot cross buns, or a non Muslim butcher to stock halal produce, under the Equality Act.

This judgment makes those a step closer, which is why I am against it. We should all be free in our religious opinions and not compelled to provide an additional service which counters it.
I would love to live in a country where free speech would be seen as a virtue, so they would have baked it even though against their sentiments. That they would have refused to bake this cake for anyone to my mind suggests a bigoted view on gay marriage, but not a discriminatory one.
NB I am going to be at the Hay Festival this Sunday night till Wednesday morning. So do say hi, and feel free to get in touch via twitter, if you want to discuss things if you are there. Ideally over a drink.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Save Me From Myself – The True Danger of Gay Marriage in Ireland

Robert McLiam Wilson, an Irish writer for Charlie Hebdo, guest posts on the forthcoming referendum in Ireland on equal marriage next week. and the curious change that this law is having on him. Robert may yet escape his “depressingly heterosexual” life. The No campaign’s worst nightmare come true – gay marriage might appeal to straight men wanting to flee the crushing sanctity of heterosexual union.

As you get older, you get more conservative, more fearful, mortal and reactionary. We’ve always known this. It’s not news. The ancient Greeks complained about it.

It could be argued that the median age for this little rightward lurch is coming down. What used to happen at sixty then happened at fifty and forty is no longer safely the hopeful, permissive time it used to be. It doesn’t matter. It’s a law. As you get older, you get more right wing. It’s nature. It’s trees in leaf, snow on the hills and fucking spiders everywhere.  Like I say, nature.

We fear it, we feel it and we watch for it, terrified that we are going start complaining that music is now just shouting, that famous people are scruffy and immigrants are…well, you know. But there is another, related, phenomenon with which we are less familiar. The terrible moment when you come upon a subject or issue, and despite summoning all your liberalism and good faith, you suddenly see with blinding clarity that the Right are, after all, perfectly correct.

For this, dear readers, is what has recently happened to me. It has been very personal and very intense. I have come to understand that those wonderful people campaigning for a No vote in the Irish gay marriage referendum (including, of course, the superbly homophobic Jim Wells and his ilk) are right. They may seem dreadful or stupid or strangely badly dressed. You might find them intolerant and bizarrely old-fashioned. But their sincerity is absolute and they genuinely hope to protect us from a terrible danger.

My Damascene conversion came when I realised that since the prospect of gay marriage in Ireland is about to be realised, I simply have not been able to stop thinking about sucking cocks. Seriously, I’m out of control. Sucking cocks. I think about it in bed, at my desk, under the shower, on the street. My heart pounds and my skin tingles, I sweat and tremble with a kind of gay madness. Cocks, hundreds of them, nay thousands of them. And me. Doing that thing to them.

Now, I have an almost embarrassing absence of homosexual incident, major or minor, in my sexual history (it used to make me feel unsophisticated in polite society). I am a working class, intellectual, romantic, fatherly type. I’ve been depressingly heterosexual. I’ve lived a life ruled and ruined by women. And now, at the advent of this evil law, I simply can’t stop thinking about cocks, about drowning myself in a gotterdammerung of gymnastic homoerotic excess, losing myself in a forest of phallus.

I am dismayed to find that I want the rough touch of manly stubble on my inner thigh. I want to lick the ears of footballers and rock stars. I want to dance in cemeteries with a hundred oiled and naked youths. I want to put on lipstick and wear a polka dot dress. I want to build my muscles and wax my chest. I wanna be roughly taken by bearish Belgians with beards and birkenstocks. I want to ruin studious bespectacled artist boys and to corrupt young priests with surprisingly pert buttocks. I want to fuck sturdy hobbledehoys and effete sons of the bourgeoisie. I want it all and I want it now.

Sometimes in the street, when I walk past building sites, I worry what I might do. At home alone, I cackle and roar with delighted and savage laughter. So delighted am I to escape the dreary shackles of heterosexual misery that my blood sings and my head swims. No more a prisoner of the feminine. I can finally relinquish the shame of pretending that I liked Penelope Cruz for her acting, of showing fake interest in cushion covers or curtain colours. I can escape the menstrual tempests and child-rearing horror.

Not only all this but I feel compelled to broadcast to diffuse and sow my epiphany, to sway and persuade others to my view. I want to rush into schools and tell the kids to forget geography and start listening to Judy Garland. It is not enough that I sense this new truth. You must all join me. You and your children’s children (well, if they have any, that is, after I make them all incredibly gay).

All this because of the mere possibility of a change in the law! I daren’t even imagine the vile madness that would befall me where this to become the law of the land. It’s nightmarish. Here I am, a man of a certain age, mild-mannered and stable. And the only thing between me and phallic abyss is one last legal safeguard.

I need to be protected from myself. I feel like I am in some tortured nineteenth century Russian novella. An explicitly gay one. I don’t want to want to suck cocks. Someone has to help me. Are the socialists going to save me from myself? No, I don’t think so. I am left with those who fight the good fight, The Alliance for the Defence of the Family and Marriage (ADFAM) are my personal favourites (Being gay causes cancer is their schtick) or the Catholic church (hey, I’m Irish – I trust the sexual probity of the Catholic church with an absolutist faith).

So guys, girls, please, help me. Please save me from myself.

Post written by Robert McLiam Wilson as a guest post on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Christian Right Try To Intimidate Vicky Beeching On Equal Marriage


Vicky Beeching is a theologian, writer, broadcaster and hosts “Faith in Feminism” which I have reblogged and commented on several times while blogging.

I only just recently found out in a post by her that she is also a singer. Not the best of ways of finding out though. Her support of equal marriage has upset the US Christian Right:

I say all of that to give context to why I have been so afraid to stand up for equal marriage; I knew not only my conservative friends and relatives in the UK would be unhappy, but also the large base of people in the States who have followed my work for the past decade. Many of them are dear friends and colleagues.

So speaking up about this has not been without great thought and personal cost. My bills are paid in part by royalties from my songwriting career. As a result of raising my voice to support equal marriage, I’ve received lots of messages from conservative American churches saying they will “boycott my songs”. If they don’t get sung in the mega-churches of North America, my royalties basically stop.

So the cost of me speaking up about equal marriage is, essentially, my salary. Hopefully that emphasises that I am not just ‘appealing to culture’ or ‘trying to be popular’ as many conservative Christians are concluding.

This is not just about trying to punish Vicky for being “the wrong kind of Christian.” It is an attempt to warn others that, if you do not toe the line as we see it, we will organize a boycott to financially ruin you. So keep it to yourself.

A small gesture on my part is to suggest buying a song from iTunes. One I like is “Precious” the seventh track from her album here.

Precious are the moments
When I know that You are very near
Precious are these moments
As You meet me here
As You meet me here


Here with You
Here with You
Your loving arms are holding me
Safe with You
Safe with You
There’s nowhere else I’d rather be

Treasured are the moments
When I know that You are very near
Treasured are these moments
As You meet me here
As You meet me here

One of those songs that universally applies to love. Even the one that others hope dare not speak it’s name.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Archbishop: Gay Stance Seen As Like Racism By Young People


There are many reasons why I am against the Church of England, and take a much harder line than apologists for it.

“We have seen changes in the idea about sexuality, sexual behaviour,” he said. “We have to face the fact that the vast majority of people under 35 not only think that what we’re saying is incomprehensible but also think that we’re plain wrong and wicked and equate it to racism and other forms of gross injustice. We have to be real about that. [Independent]”

So said Archbishop Welby.

Yes, and that is why I will continue to call for the Church of England to be disestablished, and your bishops cast out of the upper voting chamber of the House of Lords.

You represent a bygone age of repression and cruelty.

He said: “The [Equal Marriage] Bill was clearly, quite rightly, trying to deal with issues of lby homophobia in our society and … the Church has not been good at dealing with homophobia … in fact we have, at times, as God’s people, in various places, really implicitly or even explicitly supported it. [Daily Telegraph]

You do not represent the values and aspirations of the young who see sexual orientation discrimination as nothing more than an excuse to persecute and belittle others.

One day my generation will be old and grey. That day cannot come fast enough. Either you will adapt or be sidelined by us.

“I’m continuing to think and listen very carefully as to how in our society today we respond to what is the most rapid cultural change in this area that there has been, well, I don’t know if ever, but for a very long time,” he said. [Daily Telegraph]

If you are listening, for the love of god, go.

Related Posts:

Former Archbishop on Equal Marriage

Church of England and Faith Schools

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Clarifying My James Kirchick Post


Some have asked why the cross post for “James Kirchick Takes On Russia Today” was removed from Harry’s Place. As my clarification comments are no longer visible I thought would summarise them here.

I was amazed how people jumped to conclusions about the post – and indeed my own sexuality or attitudes. Simply stating if he had stuck to two minutes, and talked about specifics of what is happening in Russia it would have been better – seemed to be misconstrued as a personal homophobic or alternatively “queen V queen” assault.

That people had two polar responses to my post suggests it was never going to have the fair hearing of what was actually said.

Shame some had not read this post of mine tackling homophobia.

Or this one praising James Kirchick defending Christopher Hitchens.

Or others like challenging Mehdi Hasan on Gay rights and attitudes for Muslims.

People filled in the gaps about motivation, who I am as a person, and in some cases wrong impression what the post was about. Still, that happens when blogging.

Having shown “Russia Today” coverage in the post, and agreed serious issues in Russia because of government attitudes to gay people – and issues in some UK schools too that must not be forgotten – seems incredible some thought I was disagreeing or belittling him.

Someone mentored by Hitchens should have done better. He would have quoted government officials like the sports minister, he would have said the names of journalists murdered in Russia.

Above all Hitch would not have hijacked the show with a non stop rant because that would be the story – not what he said.

Laws are not the only thing that need changing. Attitudes on the street too. That was my problem – I think this made people feel good. My post was trying to prick that bubble of euphoria – much to be done still.

So please, if you were moved by Kirchick’s stand then get involved in showing solidarity with gay, lesbian, bi sexual and transgender people not just in Russia.

EDIT: Section 28

I have been reminded some were claiming I was comparing Russia’s anti-gay legislation with section 28.

Absolutely not – where I mention it I make very clear a journalist in the second featured video (on Russia Today) and quote Peter Tatchell making, to a lesser extent than the journalist, the comparison. As you can see in the extract below:

    In the second video above what is happening in Russia is compared to Section 28 in the UK about banning the promotion of homosexuality in school. In 2003 it was repealed by a Labour Government.

    However, only yesterday The Independent reported:

    Campaigners have identified more than 40 schools across the country that stress in their sex-education guidelines that governors will not allow teachers to “promote” homosexuality, or are ambiguous on the issue.

    The campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “This is spookily similar to Section 28 in Britain and the new anti-gay law in Russia. These schools are abusing their new freedoms to pressure teachers to teach gay issues in a way that will discourage them from saying anything positive that could be construed as ‘promotion’.”

UPDATE: Mic Wright: Russia might not be the worst place to be gay, but that shouldn’t mean ignoring Putin’s bigotry is spot on with the details of what is happening in Russia.

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