Alan H wrote:I'm not sure what the differences are between this ruling and the B&B ruling - what do you see them as?
I base this on the Tatchell article, in particular: "His cake request was refused not because he was gay, but because of the message he asked for." You have no doubt read the article and are not impressed by it, so I will elaborate with a thought experiment. Imagine that I (not you, as you apparently cannot put yourself into unlikely situations) am in turn a B&B owner and a baker, in order to ponder the two cases. But also imagine that the unsuccessful customers in both cases were not gay persons but neo-Nazis. If I were a B&B owner requested for accommodation by a couple who were clearly neo-Nazis I would feel morally bound to comply with their request provided that they were polite to other guests (who might be black or Jewish). However, if I were a baker who was asked by a neo-Nazi to produce a cake sloganned (legally I assume) with "Hitler was right!" I would steadfastly refuse to comply. Does this help? The first case is one of direct discrimination against a minority group, the second is certainly not so
I'm really not sure whether or not I'm missing something here - please explain it if I am.
Ignoring the fact that the slogan may well be incitement to (religious) hatred, I can't see the difference between the B&B owner and the baker. Both are offering a service to the public. In the case of the B&B, it is discrimination to refuse them a room, but (unless, as I said, the NI law on political discrimination comes into play), it's not unlawful discrimination because being a member of a neo-Nazi organisation is not a characteristic that is protected by discrimination law. As I understand it - and I may be wrong - you can choose who you enter into a transaction with as long as you do not contravene discrimination law
. That is why the law is there and is needed: it protects people who have particular characteristics from being discriminated against purely on those protected grounds.
But in the 'gay' cake case, the judge made it clear (and as I quoted above), it wasn't the sexual orientation of the customers that caused the discrimination; it was that the customers were being discriminated against and treated differently to others (irrespective of their own sexual orientation) because of the religious beliefs of the bakers and that discrimination was on the grounds of sexual orientation. It matter not that customers were gay: what matters is whether they were treated differently to others and whether the grounds for that different treatment was one of the protected characteristics. The protected characteristics doesn't need to be characteristics held by the customers - the discrimination on sexual orientation still existed and caused the bakers to treat the customers differently. That is illegal.