Monday, 8 December 2014

My problem with Paul Givan's comments

This morning Paul Givan MLA has issued his thoughts on his conscience clause in The Newsletter. Right in the middle of this I have a major issue.

"It is important to highlight particular cases which would, and equally important, cases which would not be affected by the legislation I propose.
"It would not mean that an evangelical grocer could refuse to sell apples to a gay man. Selling apples does not involve someone to endorse, promote or facilitate a same-sex relationship in violation of his or her faith identity so there is no conflict.
"It would not mean that a Catholic photographer could refuse to take a photograph of recipes created by a bisexual chef. Taking such photographs again would not have the effect of endorsing, promoting or facilitating a same-sex relationship.
"However, it would mean that a Muslim printer would not be required to print a book promoting same-sex relationships in violation of his faith identity. Similarly, it would mean that an evangelical photographer would not be required by law to choose between taking photographs of a civil partnership ceremony in violation of their deeply held beliefs or lose their livelihood.
"Given that the nature of faith is that it deals with higher loyalties to God it is very likely that when confronted by such a choice many people would rather lose their livelihood than be pressured by the state into violating their faith identity."

This passage is the crux of the matter. For a start he is assuming that all of faith are opposed to same-sex relationships, do not wish to celebrate civil partnerships or for that matter not carry out same-sex marriages. That is simply not the case and I have been to civil partnerships where people of faith have been present as family or friends of the couple. 

But the problem also is that by blocking the desires of these people to carry out these same-sex services in a place of worship, or for the state in Northern Ireland to not carry them out some people of faith are imposing their opinions and views on those of different religious opinion and those of none.

The centre of this entire argument is now clear. It is the fact that Paul Givan is making it possible to block out same sex relationships from Northern Irish society. Promoting it or formalising it in any way. If he wanting people to opt out of certain aspects of what it means to be LGBT maybe he should allow those who are LGBT to have what they fully want.

As I wrote yesterday we have been waiting since 2006 for the publication of a Sexual Orientation Strategy (there was finally the latest consultation on it this year). The DUP have been the party blocking the rights of same-sex and unmarried couples adopting, MSM giving blood and of course others in civic (and faith) society who want it the ability to have a same-sex marriage. If you are blocking other people's personal conscience on issues like this in a public sphere you cannot expect to have the right to allow people to even opt out of what is already there.

I may do a full Fisking or Fact Checking of his statements in the full statement later.

1 comment:

  1. I am probably missing some of the context here (I know next to nothing about NI Politics) but I can't see how the quoted statement in any way suggests that "Paul Givan is making it possible to block out same sex relationships from Northern Irish society."

    From what I can tell, the legislation is about providing a distinction between choosing who you can provide a service to (should not be allowed!) and choosing what services you provide (which should be allowed!). That is surely a useful distinction to have?!