Paul Givan, of the DUP, has pledged to introduce a private member’s bill which would void parts of equality laws.
The DUP politician in Northern Ireland has unveiled plans to introduce a ‘conscience clause’ – which would allow religious people to ignore equality laws and discriminate against gay people. The bill would allow religious people freedom to discriminate against gays based on their ‘conscience’.
Givan justifies his stances by stating that:
“This clause will enhance equality legislation. […] Equality is about ensuring that everybody in society is allowed to live out their lives. […] We now are heading towards a community where it’s not just about live and let live – people are now saying, ‘you need to affirm my particular lifestyle and if that goes against your conscience, you have to do that’.”
With the support of First Minister Peter Robinson, who spoke to the delegates at the DUP conference. He claimed that there is intolerance towards people of faith.
“I have become increasingly alarmed at the uneven pitch upon which rights and equality issues are played out. More and more the balance is tipped against people of faith.”
Robinson believes that no one should be forced to treat others with equality – you know, just how Jesus wanted.
“I believe in freedom of conscience. There will often be competing rights and freedoms but, nobody should be compelled or coerced into supporting, sanctioning or promoting views or opinions which conflict with their strongly held religious convictions.”
According to the DUP, the Equality Commission is now supporting unequal treatment.
“The publicly-funded Equality Commission has launched an unjustified attack on a small Christian family business. This is simply bullying. [..] I contend that the Equality Commission is seeking to use the Ashers case to add a further layer of restrictions on Christian behaviour and practice.”
Asher’s Baking Company in Belfast made headlines this year when it refused the request of a gay rights activist for a cake showing the message ‘Support Gay Marriage’, above an image of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie.
The Equality Commission has since stated that this act broke anti-discrimination laws – but the bakery says it will make a stand for its ‘Christian’ principles.
To the DUP, and Ashers’ Bakery, there is no unjust treatment here. For you to be discriminated against, it would be that every gay and gay-friendly business and/or person would refuse to supply you with a service just because you are religious.
© 2014 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.