Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Bigoted Bakers - does prosecution help the cause of equality?

A Northern Ireland bakers has been found guilty of discrimination because they refused to make a cake campaigning for gay marriage.

Is this a victory for equality?  I just don't know.  Equality eventually has to be supported by the feelings of the community in which the previously unequal live.  Does the threat and use of legislation change feelings?  It certainly is vital if the legislation is to prevent violence and bullying, but I find it difficult to see the deep harm that is caused by having a bakers turn down your custom.  It's wrong, of course, but personally I'd rather change minds by conversation.

Legislation can be a very divisive approach; it's also risky and potentially very costly.  Another way might be to make it clear in the community that a particular business discriminates, and allow (hopefully) changing public opinion to apply the pressure.

In time, views will change.  I don't know if this kind of legal action helps or hinders that process.

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