Outside The Box: Take 10

Sean Mallory looks at the Ashers Bakery controversy. Sean Mallory from Tyrone is a wry and sometimes caustic observer of politics both nationally and internationally.

 Ashers To Ashers
“If I were to walk in to Ashers and say, hi I’m gay, can I have a scone please? Do you think they would serve me?”
Some of those who I have been in discussion with on this subject have stated that the ‘fag’ should have wised-up, and moved on down the street and found a bakery that would have made his cake for him.

I didn’t attempt to correct the reference to the plaintive as ‘fag’ and point out that that reference besides being derogatory, was no better than being an Ashers supporter and holder of their bigoted religious view. For these people I know are not anti-gay but like myself are certainly not politically correct and on top of it all, I am equally as guilty as they, for I have often referred to gay people as ‘fags’. That is something these days that I mentally try to correct when I find myself drifting towards using language of acceptance when in their company. The desire to fit-in, be accepted, the comfort of belonging, can often over-ride not what is politically correct -  we don’t need laws to define that - but what is morally and ethically correct.

It takes something powerful and strong to jolt me back from falling in to the abyss of prejudice language and usually it’s the hunger strikers. There are times when I have fallen head over heel in to it but afterwards I think, damn, how could I have let them down by behaving like that? These friends of mine know they’re wrong in their language but I know they are not wrong in their hearts and I know that they would also stand shoulder to shoulder with a gay Palestinian and think nothing of it!  
When I asked them to try replacing that with the reviled ‘N’ word their response although abrupt and curt left me with no misunderstanding and as friends are friends and I haven’t many left, even if they are at times Neanderthals, and I don’t try to excuse them, but reality is, some you win and some you lose!
  • “If the bakery doesn’t want to make you a cake it doesn’t have too, now does it?” 
  •  “If you walked in to my bar I don’t have to serve you if I don’t want to, now do I?”    
  • “Why didn’t Ashers simply say no that they were too busy or something like that and not mention his ‘gayness’.”
Some even vented their anger at the cost to the public purse of taking such a case ... disgraceful waste of money. 
In discussing Ashers’ act of discriminating against gay people, Jeffrey Donaldson - he of don’t try and discover what premium programmes I watch in my hotel room or I will libel lawyer you -  referred to it by comparing it to someone going up the Falls to a bakery and asking them to bake a cake commemorating the Shankill Butchers. He asked, would the people in the bakery bake that cake? 
All very clear cut arguments and resolutions to this act of discrimination but they all fall down on one tiny little point of fact and which kicked of this discriminatory act in the first place – there is an anti-discriminatory law for gay people. 
Irrespective of one’s religious views, Ashers broke this law, where discriminating against someone because of their sexual proclivity is illegal. Just ask the B&B owners in England. You can have as many Christians as you can muster standing outside the courts in support, or joyously singing to the Lord in the Waterfront Hall in support, but, the law is the law, and Ashers broke the law. 
You don’t have to serve a person who comes in to your bar if you don’t want to and that is perfectly acceptable. You don’t have to sell a person a cake if you don’t want to and that is also perfectly acceptable. You don’t even have to serve a gay person who bakes cakes when they come in to your bar if you don’t want to, but you must face the consequences if you refuse to serve him because he is gay. That is discrimination.
As for Donaldson and influential member of the homophobic DUP, the same person who defended a unionist sectarian double murderer after he was sacked for telling a delivery driver he should be playing Orange tunes, of course no-one in their right mind on the Falls road is going to bake that cake but there is no law that states they must either! I’m sure Donaldson would find a bakery on the Shankill that would since the people of the Shankill lined the streets when the corteges of the various butchers passed by.   
As for those who complain about the cost to the public purse, maybe we should apply the same logic to those pursuing the case of the Hooded Men or those seeking redress for their trauma endured while in Kincora or at the hands of the Catholic Church or any other church for that matter – Taigs don’t have a monopoly on paedophilia! 
Just like the support for the double murderer, the Unionist politicians came out in support of Ashers, they organised their bigoted supporters to gather in numbers and intimidate. The double murderer got his job back after a multi-national caved in and decided on an action that ran completely contrary to the law, so will the religious bigoted supporters of Ashers have their cake but are legally compelled to sell it? Or will the law, which Unionism is always at pains to convey the importance of and extoll its virtues of, do a back flip and rule in their favour and thus, giving bigots everywhere every opportunity to express their Christian virtues while denying in an unchristian manner equality of life to others.
It is the hypocrisy of these people that is especially annoying and sickening. I can’t imagine what it must be like being gay in this society but I can imagine how difficult it must be to only want to be accepted for we have all at some point in our lives been there. It’s hard enough in this society. Let’s not make it even more so. Let Bert and Ernie have their cake and eat it.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry, Sean is plain wrong. Plain because he thinks there is no law against discriminating against a person because of his/her political beliefs: 'All very clear cut arguments and resolutions to this act of discrimination but they all fall down on one tiny little point of fact and which kicked of this discriminatory act in the first place – there is an anti-discriminatory law for gay people. '

    This is from the The Equality Challenge Unit

    'Legislation that outlaws discrimination and promotes equality
    In Northern Ireland there is a range of anti-discrimination legislation which protects students, staff and recipients of services from unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation on the basis of:
    = age: Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006
    = disability: Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) and the Disability Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 (DDO)
    = race: Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997
    = religion and belief or political opinion: Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998
    = sex: (including gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnerships, and maternity and pregnancy) Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, Equal Pay Act (Northern Ireland) 1970
    = sexual orientation: Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003'

    As you can see, if Ashers was wrong to refuse to bake a cake promoting homosexuality, then any baker would be wrong to refuse to bake a cake promoting any political view.

    Which shows the whole thing is a nonsense - had they refused to bake the cake because the buyer is gay, then they would be guilty. Just as refusing to bake a cake because the buyer is a Unionist or Nationalist would be unlawful.

    And to answer Sean's opening topic, “If I were to walk in to Ashers and say, hi I’m gay, can I have a scone please? Do you think they would serve me?”

    Yes, they would serve you. Same if you announced you were a Unionist or Nationalist, blind, over 65 or whatever.