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“Ashers decision shows same-sex marriage has huge implications for freedom of conscience” Walsh 19-05-2015

Senator Jim Walsh has described his deep regret at learning that the McArthur family, owners of Ashers Bakery in Belfast, has been found guilty of discrimination in a landmark legal case. They had refused to provide a cake bearing a pro- same-sex marriage slogan that had been ordered by an LGBT rights activist. The judge, Ms Isobel Brownlie, acknowledged that the couple had ‘genuine deeply held religious beliefs’ and that there were ‘competing human rights’ in the case. However she ruled that the McArthurs were guilty of discrimination in declining to fulfil the order and awarded damages against them.
The young couple, Karen and Daniel McArthur, who run a business employing 80 people insist that they have ‘always served everyone’ but could not promote a cause which goes against their religious beliefs about marriage. Daniel also referred to the many anxious months his family had endured because of the ongoing proceedings.

Senator Walsh argues that this case shows us the implications of same-sex marriage:

“In view of the forthcoming referendum, this case obviously raises grave concerns regarding the extent to which people of faith can be compelled by law to compromise their deeply held religious beliefs and the consequences both for individuals and businesses should they refuse to do so.

The Government has rejected the idea of inserting freedom of conscience protections and exemptions into law if same-sex marriage is introduced. Enda Kenny has insisted that all schools will have to teach the new conception of marriage and family, regardless of the ethos of the school. Marriage isn’t the only thing at stake in this referendum. Freedom of opinion and freedom of conscience, for individuals, businesses and schools, are also on the chopping block. Indeed, a significant insight into the pressure on schoolchildren was clearly illustrated in the intolerance and pressure they came under in a North Dublin school last week where they were being forced into wearing LGBT rights insignia and participating in ‘LGBT Week’ activities,“ concluded Senator Walsh. ENDS

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