In the spring of 2014 efforts to enact same-sex marriage legislation in the Northern Ireland Assembly suffered another setback. Undeterred, QueerSpace, a support group for the LGBT community in Northern Ireland, celebrated its 16th anniversary with an event pushing for reform of the law. Gareth Lee, a volunteer at QueerSpace, ordered a cake for the party bearing the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” from Ashers Bakery. When his order was subsequently rejected and his money returned on the basis that the message offended against the religious beliefs of the bakery owners, the McArthur family, these seemingly innocuous facts exploded into the “Gay Cake” case which has gripped public debate in Northern Ireland for the last year. Continue reading “Ashers Bakery Loses "Gay Cake" Discrimination Case”
On the early morning of December 27, 2010, the recently-appointed Hogan J ordered, following a brief hearing from his home, the administration of a blood transfusion to a three month-old baby, ‘AB’, against the wishes of his parents. As committed Jehovah’s Witnesses, they opposed the procedure on grounds of religious belief, but it was necessary to save the child’s life. In his judgment Hogan J considered the requirement of Article 34.1 of the Constitution that justice be administered in public “save in such special and limited cases as may be prescribed by law.” More significantly, perhaps, he also considered the scope and limits of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion (Article 44.2.1) as it applies to religiously-motivated parental conduct relating to the education and care of children. The extent to which constitutional freedom of religion may protect parental action or inaction deemed harmful in some respect to children is a rather under-explored area of Irish law. The better-beaten doctrinal path is the Article 42.5 test of “moral and physical” parental failure enabling the State to override the protection accorded to the Family by Articles 41 and 42 of the Constitution – a ground also considered, in conjunction with the religion ground, in this rather short judgment.