When having your cake and decorating it becomes a matter of conscience!

Do you believe in democratic freedom? I do. I believe every one of us has the right to hold opinions without interference from others. I also believe discrimination against anyone or any group, including the LGBT community, is wrong, ugly, unlawful and dehumanising; and I always have, and I always will stand up for, and staunchly support, equality for all. 

  Okay, now we’ve got that out of the way…I’ll add that I believe the decision reached last week by the Belfast Court of Appeal who ruled that the Christian-owned Ashers Baking Company acted ‘unlawfully’ when staff refused to ice a cake with what was essentially a political slogan, was ludicrous, a major blow for freedom of expression and was incompatible with democracy.

  Again, I support equal rights and gay marriage; I also love cake. However, I vigorously disagree with Ashers’ opposition to marriage equality; indeed I feel that icing an inoffensive and simple pro-gay slogan on a cake for a customer doesn’t in any way mean the bakery was supporting the communiqué propagated by said missive. Sure cooking a turkey and ham and making sausage meat stuffing for my carnivore family’s Christmas dinner doesn’t mean that as a vegan, I suddenly support animal abuse! However, I do know certain vegans would vilify me for doing it. I’m not eating that dinner; I’m just respecting others’ rights to do so.

  This means, while I’m at odds with the bakery’s decision to refuse the order, I fully respect their right to their convictions and I believe the court’s findings that they discriminated against Gareth Lee, (outraged customer who had a right to eat cake), on grounds of ‘sexual orientation contrary to the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2006,’ was wrong. They didn’t refuse to serve this gentleman; they didn’t refuse his right to have his cake and eat it; they simply refused to decorate his cake in a way that was contrary to their beliefs.

  However, given the court’s decision, I’d now worry society’s lawmakers have decided that a business or an individual is now in breach of the law if they refuse a client’s request to provide a specific service – and this makes me feel decidedly uneasy. It  leads me to  ask…does this mean if a customer were to walk into any bakery in County Roscommon and request that a hateful, pornographic, sexist, racist, hurtful, injurious or prejudicial message, etc., be iced on a cake, that the business could face a high profile court battle if they refused to do it? How disgracefully oppressive is that? I mean, don’t organisations have a right to turn down business? Don’t we all have a right to say no? Don’t we all have a right to enjoy the freedom of our own conscience?

  Last year, much ado was made about the Roscommon/South Leitrim constituency being ‘the only one in Ireland to reject the referendum to introduce marriage for same-sex couples.’ Big swingin’ whatchamacallit! I voted ‘Yes’, but people have a right to vote ‘No’ if they so wish…it’s their democratic prerogative! Let’s respect that!

  In fact, I was annoyed at best-selling author Marian Keyes, who at the time, posted a malicious comment on Twitter, referring to Roscommon/South Leitrim residents as bigots, tweeting: “Tip?! I’ll give you a tip! Move to Roscommon/South Leitrim and pal around with your own kind. #OfHateFilledBigots” She quickly deleted it, but for feck sake, is this typical of the outrageous and hysterical reaction of some individuals who seem to be of the view that decent people should be punished, mocked and vilified for having an opinion and a belief that differs to their own?

  Nobody should ever be forced to facilitate, support or champion a policy, an opinion, an idea or a conviction they oppose. Where’s the democracy in that? Answers should be iced onto a cake, by liberal minded people, and sent to me. Yum!

Giving birth naturally is not about establishing superiority

I’ve a question…could broadcaster Sarah Carey please try to be less smug and judgemental? You see, when chatting about the possibility of her emails being hacked and publicly leaked on RTE’s ‘Brendan O’Connor’s Cutting Edge’ last week, smug Sarah said she “worries about it constantly.” I agreed with Rory O’Neill, AKA Panti Bliss, who  retorted: ”You’ve got a very high opinion of yourself. Who the hell is going to be interested in your emails?” Precisely, Panti!

  But Sarah didn’t move on and learn her lesson; proving she’s possibly a bit of a judgemental sneer when it comes to members of the sisterhood who’ve undergone Caesarean section births. Well, how else would you digest her statement that she’d “done two things right” in her life; passing her driving test and having natural births. Well I’m delighted Sarah feels so utterly righteous.

  I also found myself agreeing with Dr. Ciara Kelly, a woman with whose opinions I am often at odds; when, with clear derision marked across her face, she asked Carey; “Are you judging those who have had C sections?” Well, are you, Sarah?  Both my own births were natural…if there’s anything natural about a 5’ woman pushing out a 10lb baby, that is; but I couldn’t have cared less how my children were delivered once they got them out safely!

  Ms. Carey’s comment came on the back of a report that found C Sections were on the rise in Ireland. She was worried too many doctors were facilitating women who’re too posh to push and assumed we should all enjoy a so-called natural birthing process. 

  Look love, doctors, nurses and midwives are not in the job to pander to trends and give mothers a social experience; the way in which you give birth is not about establishing superiority; sometimes the ideal birth plan can fly out the window. Medical professionals are there to provide and perform an expert service in order that the mother and her baby receive the best possible care and have the best possible outcome…Little tip Sarah, never miss a good opportunity to shut up and allow the real doctor on the panel to answer the health-related questions.

Vatican views…

Fifty years following their consent to cremation, Vatican watchdogs have bellowed, via their website, a decree, that they’ve banned the scattering of ashes of the dearly departed. The formal instruction, apparently approved by Pope Francis, goes so far as to…well, scaremonger and emotionally blackmail, in my view, that in some instances, those who make that last request for their bodies should actually be denied a ‘Christian funeral.’

  How offensive and how unfair that is to those faithful Catholics who’re fully entitled to receive all of the rites and ceremonies due to them? 

  Okay, as a nation I believe we’re still coming to terms with the whole cremation process, but I truly feel that what ultimately matters is that the final wishes of a loved one is respected in order that they can breathe their last, safe in the knowledge that their eternal resting place (or places) is wherever they want to be and not where some undeviating, pedantic ‘rule’ dictates they should be.