The Workplace Relations Commission has ordered a Louth print and design company to pay a former customer a €2,500 fee after they were found to be guilty of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Beulah Print and Design refused service to Jonathan Brennan in 2015, when he contacted the company to print invitations for his civil partnership ceremony with his partner John Kierans. Brennan had used the company in the past in relation to his hairdressing salon. He was “shocked and embarrassed” when the company refused to print invites for the ceremony.
According to Brennan, the company had cited religious objection to the request, claiming that they were Bible-believing Christians who did not support gay marriage.
As Beulah offer wedding invitation services to heterosexual couples, the company was found to have discriminated against Brennan on the grounds of sexual orientation under Section Three of the Equal Status Act.
Speaking on the verdict, Orla Jones, the adjudication officer from the Workplace Relations Commission, said:
“I am thus satisfied that in refusing to provide the service to the complainant the respondent did discriminate against the complainant on the ground of his sexual orientation.”
Despite the official ruling of the WRC, the Louth company rejected claims of discrimination claiming that the employees “simply acted in accordance with the light of [their] consciences as followers of Christ.”
The statement from Beulah Print continued to confirm that their objection was not to Brennan’s sexuality, but to the ceremony in question. They claimed that they did not refuse Brennan “because of who he is or how he chooses to live”. Citing their previous work with Brennan the company said that they were “happy to serve him in the past and would happily continue to serve him in the future”.
The statement continued:
“For us, designing and printing invitations to such events would be lending of our approval and even the promotion of the content and is, therefore, something we could never do.”
© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
For 30 years GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBT+ community. We want to go on providing this community hub in print and online, helping countless individuals across the country, but the revenue from advertising across the media is falling.
GCN needs your support. If you value having an independent LGBT+ media in Ireland, you can help from only €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBT+ media.