The concern for religious freedom and being able to refuse service to gay people doesn’t appear to be something restricted to Arizona (as discussed in previous post).
On The Nolan Radio Show, Stephen Nolan (presenter) discussed issues surrounding gay equality rights within Northern Ireland.
Several of the callers who rung into the show were Catholic, expressing their views on equality rights. Believing that gay people have far more many rights that Catholics. More than one caller believed that, for example a B&B owner should be able to refuse service to a same sex couple if they believe it to be morally wrong for two people of the same sex to share a bed. If this hypothetical business owner refused service and were taken to court and sued seemed unreasonable to these same callers and they should have the right to religious freedom.
A recent incident in which two men who were ordered out of a taxi in Northern Ireland after kissing was also discussed on the show. This news article details how a taxi driver ‘objected and swore’ at the couple who had kissed in the back of the taxi, before ordering them to leave the car.
The taxi firm released a statement that said they do not approve of their employees actions and an investigation was being made into the incident. But whilst the taxi firm do not condone the behaviour, many of the callers in ‘The Nolan Show’ thought otherwise and believed the taxi driver should not have to serve homosexuals.
Being a heavily religious country these views from the general public might not be surprising and neither is their belief that religious freedom should allow them to discriminate. But within the Republic of Ireland there are parts of the law that do not provide basic protection for gay people within employment.
“Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act, does however allow religious organisations, medical institutions or educational institutions an exemption on employment grounds. If such an organisation wants to maintain the religious ethos or prevent the religious ethos from being undermined then it is not illegal under section 37 for them to discriminate. This applies to employment only.”
Arizona and Ireland are just some areas where equality rights for gay people are not as progressive as our own countries, and there are areas where conditions for gay people are drastically worse, which I have yet to explore.