Ashers Judgment fortifies equality laws
SDLP Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood has welcomed District Judge Isobel Brownlie’s determination of unlawful discrimination in the Ashers bakery case.
Mr Eastwood said that the judgment was a welcome fortification of equality standards but warned against any attempt to weaken those laws that may follow.
He said: “Today’s judgment in the Ashers case is a welcome and necessary refortifying of our hard won equality laws. The case has generated a significant amount of civil and political interest and the determination of the court has restored confidence in the strength of legal protections for minority communities.
“What we must guard against now is any ill-conceived, reactionary move that would diminish our equality architecture. While there are areas of public policy and private belief that raise genuine issues of personal conscience, that cannot be used as a smokescreen for discrimination and the suppression of rights. Protections for religious and political views are robustly enshrined in law and we support that. The SDLP does, however, remain absolutely opposed to the DUP’s conscience clause legislation.
“This has the potential to be a watershed week for the protection of LGBT rights in Ireland. It is a sad reflection of the gulf between political attitudes North and South that citizens in the South will have the opportunity to vote for equality while those in the North must pursue it in our courts.
“The SDLP is committed to protecting the rights of minority communities and promoting equality for everyone. We will continue to pursue that goal and will oppose those who seek to hold us back.”