Mon | Nov 29, 2021

Holding hostage freedom of conscience

Published:Sunday | July 13, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Shirley Richards, Guest Columnist

In his article of July 6, 2014, Dane Lewis of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, referred to the use of "uncorroborated anecdotes to create a climate of fear and to portray the pursuit of equality and rights for LGBT people as something sinister". Who needs to use uncorroborated anecdotes when there are accurate reports of incidents available to all?

Take the case of the Huguenins of New Mexico, United States, who operated a business under the name Elane Photography. The New Mexico Court of Appeal in August 2013 upheld the decision of the Human Rights Commission that the refusal of the Huguenins to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony was in breach of the New Mexico Human Rights Act. It was held to be discrimination based on "sexual orientation".

Justice Bosson ruled that "the Huguenins ... now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives. Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering ... . The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish ... but there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life ... . It is the price of citizenship." (ELANE PHOTOGRAPHY, LLC, Plaintiff-Petitioner, v Vanessa WILLOCK, Defendant-Respondent. No. 33,687 - August 22, 2013). A fine of approximately US$7,000 was imposed to cover fees.

Many persons are also familiar with the case of Brendan Eich, CEO of Mozilla, "who, earlier this year, was forced to resign his position because six years earlier, he had contributed $1,000 to support California's Proposition 8 campaign preserving marriage in that state as the union of one man and one woman". Eich was branded 'unfit to serve' as the CEO of the company he co-founded. Again, this is no anecdote!

Case reference

Here are two examples from England. In April 2012, Mayor of London Boris Johnson banned this advertisement on London buses: "Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get Over It." This was a response to a previous bus advertisement purchased by homosexual lobby Stonewall, which read: "Some People Are Gay. Get Over It." The reason for the ban, according to the mayor, was that London was one of the "most tolerant cities in the world!" Do you get it? Because of tolerance, an opposing opinion was not to be tolerated!

An excerpt from The Economist provides another example :

"How far does tolerance stretch? In March 2012, Christian Concern, a lobby group that opposes gay marriage, booked rooms for its conference at the Law Society, a statutory body that represents solicitors in England and Wales. On May 11, 2012, the Law Society's hospitality company cancelled the booking, saying that the event was "contrary to our diversity policy, espousing as it does an ethos which is opposed to same-sex marriage." Christian Concern then booked at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, a publicly owned building near Parliament. On May 22nd, the afternoon before the conference was due to start, its chief executive, Ernest Vincent, cancelled the booking, saying: "The event would conflict with our policy on diversity."

According to The Economist, "... finding out the full story is tricky." June 2, 2012 http://www.economist.com/node/21556292 (Same-sex marriage was not even legal at that time!)

Here is another recent example published by the BBC (see http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-28206581):

"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 County Antrim firm could face legal action from the Equality Commission. The watchdog (the Equality Commission) confirmed it is assisting the customer whose order was refused and has written to the baking company on his behalf."

Suppression of human rights

Here's what is interesting: Same-sex marriage isn't even legal in Northern Ireland!

These cases are just a few examples of what's happening in countries, including the US, England and Canada, which have made provision for homosexual rights. The result has been the suppression of fundamental human rights of freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. In these countries, the rule of law now means, for all practical and relevant purposes, the rule of 'homosexual rights'.

Repeal of the buggery law places us on this road which, in other countries has resulted in minority homosexual rights taking precedence over the fundamental human rights of the majority. Having been seduced by admittedly great-sounding phrases like "justice or equality for all", governments in these countries have taken on the task of implementing legislation to bolster homosexual rights, resulting in state-sanctioned punishment for dissenters. Only after it's too late is there the realisation that the promise of justice or equality for all was a sham, a seduction leading to policies and laws that demand homage to the homosexual lifestyle, with punishment for conscientious objectors.

Repeal of the law will also effectively remove the philosophy that protects true marriage, making the institution of marriage, although thankfully currently protected, much more susceptible to challenge. The law provides guidance as to what is unacceptable sexual behaviour and thus provides, inter alia, firm basis for our officials to reject what has been accurately described as indoctrination of our children with unhealthy and damaging notions of sexual intercourse.

The old adage, "look before you leap", may very well be instructive to us all at this time.

Shirley Richards is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and sprichards@cwjamaica.com.