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Courtroom bun fight only demeaning gay activists

(Suzanne Breen, Sunday Life)

Gay rights' activists are fighting an unwinnable battle against Ashers Bakery. It doesn't really matter what legal judgement Belfast County Court reaches. Either way, those who took the case lose.

By their actions, the Equality Commission and Gareth Lee have done more to set back the case of gay rights' than the DUP could ever dream of.

And that's shameful because gay men and women here still face so much bigotry and inequality. But by focussing on a cake – or to be precise the icing on the cake – those gay rights' activists behind this case have trivialised their own campaign.

To the general public, it looks like they've nothing better to do than run around nitpicking and feeling permanently offended about something other people would just shrug their shoulders over and then move on.

Gareth Lee told the court that Ashers' refusal to decorate his cake with Sesame Street characters and the slogan 'Support Gay Marriage' left him feeling "not worthy, a lesser person".

I understand how he might have been extremely p***ed off with Ashers, but I can't comprehend how an unbaked cake would impact so massively on someone's self-esteem.

Under cross-examination, Lee agreed that Karen McArthur was polite and "extremely apologetic". It wasn't her actual words but "the outworking of that message" that upset him.

Such evidence doesn't scream 'glaring injustice" to the ordinary man or woman on the street. This is not Selma, Alabama 1965. It's not Derry 1968 either. And gay rights' activists were foolish to try to elevate it so.

The fact that so many people, who have supported them on other matters, weren't behind them on this should have been a wake-up call. Had Ashers refused to serve a gay person, I'd drag the McArthurs through every court in the land to secure justice.

But this case looks like crucifying someone for simply having a different opinion. Had a gay baker declined to ice a cake with a slogan 'Oppose Gay Marriage', they'd be hailed as a hero standing up for their principles by those now pursuing Ashers.

From the outset, it was obvious that this case would backfire and alienate public opinion. Some gay rights' campaigners come across as intolerant and censorious as those they're challenging.

With friends like these, the gay community doesn't need enemies. Propaganda wise, it's been manna from heaven for Christian fundamentalists. They'll be the only winners.

April 1, 2015

This article appeared in the March 29, 2015 edition of the Sunday Life.

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