Gay Politics in Northern Ireland

The programme is called The “Gay Cake” Affair and broadcasts on BBC Radio 4 at 11am on Mon 23 March 2015.

William Crawley William Crawley explores the issues raised by the so-called ‘Gay Cake‘ row and the resulting ‘Conscience Clause‘ proposal to amend Northern Ireland’s equality legislation.

It began last year when Ashers Baking Company in Belfast refused to make a cake bearing the legend ‘Support Gay Marriage.’ The firm defended their decision, stating the message on the cake was contrary to their Christian beliefs, but the Northern Ireland Equality Commission is now supporting an anti-discrimination case against the owners of the bakery.

In response, The Christian Institute called for donations to help Ashers meet their legal costs, saying it was providing the support because of what it claimed were “the difficulties Christians face in holding to their religious beliefs in an increasingly secular society”.

At the Stormont Assembly the Democratic Unionist Party MLA, Paul Givan, proposed a draft Private Member’s Bill to introduce a ‘Conscience Clause’ that would allow the refusal of goods and services on the grounds of strongly held religious beliefs.

The ‘Gay Cake’ row has since made headlines far beyond Belfast. As the debate over the Conscience Clause intensifies and the case against Ashers goes to court, William Crawley meets the key players and asks how we might negotiate these and other similar cases elsewhere where there are competing sets of ‘rights’ at stake.  Is ‘reasonable accommodation’ possible and what does the debate reveal about a changing Northern Ireland?

 

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Jeff Dudgeon at the City Hall in Belfast

Jeff Dudgeon at the City Hall in Belfast

NIGRA has refrained from the cake mix(sorry) until now, as we believed it was best handled by the Equality Commission, but with the push about the ‘Conscience Clause’ and its wider ramifications to our civil liberties Jeff Dudgeon has now entered the fray. Gay Politics are now up front and personal; if you don’t agree with any part of the interview then make your feelings known either by contacting the BBC or commenting on NIGRA’s Blog.

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