The only surprise here, perhaps, is that this story isn’t from the USA — not that the USA has cornered the market on this topic, but most of the global media attention to the topic seems to be focused on the way this issue has played out in American politics. OK, the substantive question is this: does commerce bring with it special moral and legal requirements vis-a-vis non-discrimination? Notice that, legally at least, you’re allowed to discriminate in your personal life (based on sexual orientation, race, or whatever). For example, you’re allowed to discriminate in choosing friends, or in choosing who to invite to your birthday party. Do the rules change when the (potential) relationship is commercial, rather than private? >>>
Irish bakery discriminated by refusing gay cake order, court rules
A Northern Ireland bakery owned by devout Christians who refused to bake a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan was found guilty of discrimination in Belfast on Tuesday and fined. The fine comes just three days before the May 22 referendum in which Ireland will decide whether to give same-sex marriages equal constitutional status with traditional heterosexual marriages…..
(Re our headline — no, the cake isn’t gay, but you know what we mean.)
In the case of potentially competing legal rights/values (such as equality vs. freedom of religion) I believe that the balancing/proportionality approach often taken by Canadian courts is appropriate. In order for social harms to be minimized and to protect vulnerable/minority groups, it may be necessary to place some restrictions on the rights/freedoms of those providing business services.