Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Isn't it Ironic #conscienceclause

Today the Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor met with Paul Givan to discuss the conscience clause.

I will give him his due, while he did say it was widely supportive of the essence of the Conscience Bill he did add a caveat:

"any change to the law would have to be carefully defined, to prevent it from leading to spurious claims of religious conscience."

He also said that

"it would be wrong to swap one form of discrimination for another."

The ironic bit is of course the marriage equality debate that seems to have sparked this whole thing off.

The equal marriage motion, and the second (if amended thus) and the third time it has come before Stormont would meet both the Bishops caveat and his call not to swap one form of discrimination with another. In each of the three occasions as with the Acts passed by Holyrood and Westminster there was no discrimination on the basis on anyone's interpretation of faith, nor their freedom from those of faith. It replaced the discrimination of those in same sex relationships having a relationship, viewed by some (mainly those of faith) as substandard to marriage. It endeavoured to put in place legislation not to discriminate against people of faith.

But of course we know in Northern Ireland the DUP lodged a petition of concern, and again and again.

So the irony is that the Bishop is right there is a real problem that needs to be addressed. But those of us who have sought to bring about equal marriage legislation have done what we can to protect those with strongly held religious beliefs both those opposed and those in favour, as well as those who want freedom from religion. The issue is of course that the DUP, Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church, Church of Ireland and others didn't see it this way and have opposed it officially.

Yes we have an problem that needs to be addressed. The irony is that even when accommodating certain views from certain people of faith when it comes to LGBT equality isn't enough to appease them and they can't see beyond the fact that Northern Ireland has differing views both from people of faith and those without.

In the words of Alanis Morissette, "Isn't it Ironic"?.


1 comment:

  1. If, as a gay man, I eat a meal in a restaurant in Norn Irn that would refuse to serve me if they knew I was gay, would this clause mean I can use my conscience to refuse to pay with the full backing of the law?