In an interview on BBC Newsline Simon Calvert says the “law could have better accommodated” Ashers bakery
During a recent interview on BBC Newsline, Simon Calvert, the Christian Institute’s deputy director of public affairs, told the reporter that there are “important principals” which are at risk with the Ashers bakery ‘gay cake’ case.
“Well there are very important principals at stake aren’t there,” Calvert said.
“Not just for the Christian community but for everybody because the distinction in this case, which seems to have been lost on the court of first instance, is that this was not a matter of discriminating against a customer but simply refusing to be co-opted into somebody else’s campaign.”
The ‘gay cake’ case saw Ashers bakery refuse to bake a cake with a pro-marriage equality message on it.
After losing the initial case and subsequent appeal, the owners of Ashers bakery, the McArthurs, plan to take the case to the UK’s Supreme Court.
Ashers bakery’s legal fees are being fronted by the Christian Institute, with fees of £200,000 incurred to date.
Far Reaching Implications
Calvert continued to convey that the issues which are at play in this case do not solely pertain to discrimination against LGBT people but have a more widespread reach.
“The particular ruling that’s been handed down deals not with just sexual orientation discrimination laws but religious laws and political discrimination laws and so as another QC not part of the McArthurs’ legal team, as another QC has pointed out, that has implications for example for Muslim’s in business.”
“A Muslim printer could be sued for refusing to print cartoons of Mohammed. An atheist web designer could be sued for refusing to help produce pro-Christian websites and so on,” he said.
“It’s a ruling which has much wider ramifications than just the McArthurs themselves and they appreciate that.”
Right To Refuse
The interviewer recalled the judges’ verdict that the Ashers are in the business of serving everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, and so on.
“But the judge pointed out that Ashers is in the business of supplying to all, services to all, surely you wouldn’t disagree with that verdict would you,” she asked.
“That’s right, and of course they do supply services to all,” the Christian Institute’s deputy director of public affairs replied.
“That was very clear in the discussion in the court. It wasn’t in dispute that the Ashers bakery happily serves every customer that comes through the door.”
“It’s not about turning away customers because of something to do with their nature the customer himself or herself. It’s to do with whether you can forced by the law to help promote a cause with which you fundamentally disagree.”
“That’s a distinction that I think most people grasp, but unfortunately it’s a distinction that was lost on the court.”
Belfast’s Court of Appeal will clarify whether the laws used against the bakers are constitutionally valid tomorrow, November 22, following Northern Ireland’s attorney general John Larkin’s query.
Although the McArthur family are currently away abroad on vacation Simon Calvert has been in contact with them regarding the appeal.
“This of course was entirely their decision, and it was a difficult decision for them to make, wasn’t it?
“Because it means they’re prolonging the agony, they’re prolonging the intense public interest in it but you know what they have said in their own statement is that they know this has ramifications for other people.”
“They know there are important principals at stake so they have carefully and prayerfully considered the legal advice and decided that they do want to pursue an appeal.”
Watch the full interview below:
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