Independent TD Mattie McGrath has described the decision to find a Northern Ireland bakery guilty of discrimination as a clear indication of the kind of restrictions on religious freedom that will occur if the May 22 same sex marriage referendum is passed.
Deputy McGrath was speaking after Asher’s Bakery was found to have breached Equality legislation by refusing to support same sex marriage, a position which is contrary to the Christian ethos of its owners:
“I am deeply saddened that a conscientious and respectful decision by Asher’s has been found to constitute discrimination.
This really does make it quite clear that a certain narrow vision of equality will continue to triumph over the rights of business owners to legitimately decide what political cause they may or not support.
In effect what the ruling has said is that all of society must now be railroaded into supporting a social agenda even if that agenda is contrary to your sincerely held beliefs.
I am also certain that this will give absolute credence to the belief that Christian institutions are heading toward a political and legislative climate where their very capacity to manifest their beliefs in public will be seriously threatened.
On the eve of the same sex referendum it speaks to the clear need for this Government to introduce a water tight and carefully targeted conscience clause to allow people who in honest good faith cannot contravene their religious or ethical principles by supporting same sex marriage.
This decision will not only add fuel to what are already deeply held concerns within the broader community, but it will also alert us to the shallowness of the assurances that have been coming from Government in terms of no religious institution being forced to act against its will should the referendum on marriage be passed,” concluded Deputy McGrath.