The “gay cake” row.

cake

The “gay cake” row has been rumbling on for a few days now.  The BBC website states the following:

“A Christian-run bakery that refused a customer’s request to make a cake with a slogan supporting gay marriage could face a discrimination case in court.

Ashers Baking Company declined an order from a gay rights activist, asking for cake featuring the Sesame Street puppets, Bert and Ernie.

The customer also wanted the cake to feature the logo of a Belfast-based campaign group called “Queerspace”.

The cake was ordered for a civic event in Bangor Castle Town Hall, County Down, to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia”

The arguments on the web over the issue are becoming heated, which is rather surprising considering this appears to me to be a clear cut case of discrimination – just as in the case of the B&B that refused to allow a gay couple to share a room a few years back.  However, not everyone agrees.  Tina Calder of “News Letter” website write the following:

“While my personal opinion is to live and let live and I support everyone’s right to choose I have to say that includes the bakery.

I may think it is wrong for the bakery owner to refuse to make the cake but the solid facts of the matter are that this business proprietor had an absolute right to decline any order they didn’t want to service.

Surely serving a customer is at the discretion of the business owner?

If we are going to insist on fighting for equality then it’s important that we extend that right even to those we don’t agree with.

We may not believe in the same ethical principles as one another but it is important to respect people’s right to hold their opinion or beliefs.”

So, Miss Calder, the “serving of a customer is at the discretion of the business owner?”  Would you feel the same way if the cake owners had a sign in their window saying “no ethnic minorities?”  Would you feel there was anything wrong with that?  After all, it’s up to the discretion of the business owner who they serve, right?

Bollocks.

Unsurprisingly, the Daily Mail (ever the voice of reason!) have rather exaggerated the issue:

“The challenge to the Christian-run Ashers Baking Company is the first likely legal case in which anyone has been told it is against the law to refuse to take part in gay rights publicity campaigns.”
Errr, that’s not strictly true.  They were being asked to provide a cake – that they were getting paid for.  That’s hardly the same as holding them at gunpoint and making them walk down the street in drag with a rainbow flag.

Steve Doughty of the Daily Mail goes on (and on…):

“Mr Lee was turned down not because of his sexual orientation but because of the provocative nature of the cake he wanted baked.”
Hardly provocative given that we are living in 2014.  We are talking about two characters from Sesame Street here.

Of course, the Daily Mail article has the backing of the “news”paper’s readers. “Daffodil” suggests that:

“the answer is ,,,Bake the cake and charge ’em £ 1000.00. that should do it .”

This might be a great decision.  The bakery could then donate the £1000 to “Daffodil” so that she could go to evening classes and learn how to use full stops, commas, and capital letters.  A win-win situation.

Meanwhile, “Papillon” writes states that the situation is:

“forced tolerance. makes a lot of sense. I feel so guilty to be a white heterosexual male. I must be the bad guy.”

Well, Papillon might well be the bad guy.  He does, after all, have an avatar of a man cocking a pistol (oh, the irony).

“F2” asks the following question:

“Should gay bakers be forced to make cakes with “Oppose Gay Marriage” slogans?”

Whether we like it  or not, that is a question that needs to be asked, even if the scenario is as unlikely as being asked to bake a cake with a slogan on it supporting gay marriage.

What seems most odd, however, is why a certain group of people believe that rules do not apply to them because they believe in a man in the sky.  Yes, they have a right to believe what they want – and I have no argument against that – but if they run a company (whether a B&B or a bakery) designed to serve the public, then that is what they should do.  The law that states that business owners have a right not to serve people at their own discretion is archaic and needs to be changed.   This may well be a test case for that if it ever gets to court.

The key thing here, though, is that religious beliefs should not be used as a valid excuse for discrimination.

 

 

 

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Eurovision – some thoughts

contest

 

The most shocking thing about the winning Eurovision entry this evening was the fact that the contest suddenly became relevant and, bizarrely, important. I doubt this will be a regular occurrence, so we shouldn’t get too excited.

Prior to tonight’s final there were calls from at least three countries for the Austrian entry to be withdrawn. Why? Well, because it was sung by a transvestite with a beard. The Russian politician behind the anti-gay propaganda law called her a “pervert” and said the performance showed that the competition was a “hotbed of sodomy.” A little odd, then, that he didn’t withdraw the Russian entry consisting of two 17 year old girls to protect them. Conchita Wurst, the singer in question, responded by saying that she was just “a singer in a fabulous dress, with great hair and a beard.” Well, her beard’s better than mine. I only get a five o’clock shadow after 7 days.

However, she was much more than that – and it’s clear that she was well aware of it. The song was clearly calculated to be a universal (well, European) “fuck you” to those behind the anti-gay laws in Russia and those supporting them. Entering such an artist was a risk, but a calculated one. Eurovision has a huge gay following to start with, so support was always going to be there. However, the risk turned into triumph thanks to the fact that the song was not only sending out a message, but because it was actually extremely good. Shirley Bassey must be seething that she didn’t get her hands on it first.

It’s interesting that many people tell us how things were much better when they were growing up. I don’t believe them. Equality and acceptance of race, gender, and sexuality is greater now than it ever was (at least in the Western world). Many reading this will wonder what the fuss is about, but it’s yet another important rung on the ladder. We’ve had LGBT winners of popularity contests in the UK for fifteen years or so (Pop Idol, Big Brother etc), so for Brits to vote for the Austrian entry was no big surprise. For the people of 37 countries in Europe to do the same and finally show solidarity to the LGBT people of Russia in a very public way is a huge step. The boos for Russia at the show were unfortunate – the Russians in the audience were probably rebelling against the State, not supporting them.

The thing that will get lost here is that, even if the song wasn’t sung by a transvestite, it still would have won in all probability – and maybe by a bigger margin – but, in the end it’s the voting (and the political voting at that) which was important.

And America has a lot to learn.

Twitter has been afire tonight over two stories. in America, gay NFL player Michael Sam was photographed kissing his boyfriend and was met on twitter with a barrage of abuse. In Europe, a bearded transvestite wins a contest watched by 125million people and the tweets are 95% positive. One that wasn’t came from the Sunday people tweeted this:

Zoom in (real dimensions: 599 x 337)BnTvTBRCIAAM4Em

Unsurprisingly, the tweet quickly got deleted. Ironically, the only other negative tweet I found asked “why vote for a freak?” And this from someone who is a campaigner against abuse of women and children!

In around 75% of the countries that voted, civil partnerships and same-sex weddings are still banned.   In others, well, we know the situation in some other countries.  Let’s hope that, finally, the message of the people kickstarts some change. But, in all likelihood, the hubbub will be forgotten in a matter of days, but just for tonight people spoke with their hearts.