5 February 2016

The Ashers Bakery ‘gay cake’ saga in Northern Ireland has thrown up yet another example of the harmful consequences that come with redefining marriage, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.

“We have been told for years that same-sex marriage does not affect other peoples’ freedoms,” Mr Shelton said.

“This is of course false and we have Australian and international examples of same-sex marriage ideology clashing with freedom of speech, conscience and religion.”

Internationally prominent same-sex rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, weighed into the Ashers Bakery case saying he had changed his mind on the virtue of charging the Ashers with discrimination. He now believes that the ruling against the Ashers sets a ‘worrying precedent’ against free speech.

Ashers Bakery general manager Daniel and wife Amy McArthur had their court case adjourned yesterday until May, but only after spending thousands in legal fees to defend themselves.

“The overseas experience becomes more serious by the day. If anyone thought same-sex marriage would not take away other peoples’ rights, they are wrong,” Mr Shelton said.

“As the McArthur family has discovered, same-sex marriage ideology has far-reaching consequences on businesses, religious organisations, communities and families.”

The McArthur family has been found to have discriminated against a same-sex attracted customer who had ordered a cake bearing a pro-same-sex marriage slogan.

They said they did so based on their Christian belief in marriage, not out of discrimination towards an individual.

Mr Shelton warned that freedoms in Australia were already under threat.

“We only need to look at the case of Tasmanian Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous who was reported to the Anti-Discrimination Commission for publishing a marriage booklet,” he said.

“We should not rush into this simply because some other countries have sought to redefine marriage.

“There will always be millions of Australians who will always believe marriage is between a man and a woman, no matter what some politicians might say.

“Sadly what we’ve seen in other countries is that these people, such as the McArthur family, find themselves being punished by law for living out their beliefs.

Mr Shelton said Paul Kelly from the Australian was correct earlier this week when he said  changes to marriage law will not offer protections for those who disagree.

“….it is unlikely to offer protection in relation to commercial operations: for example, allowing florists to exercise their freedom of conscience,” Mr Kelly wrote.

“It is, moreover, unlikely to address wider and critical issues such the right of religions to refuse to endorse same-sex marriage in their institutions and schools.”

Mr Shelton said: “Australian florists, photographers, cake makers and celebrants will face the same legal punishment as their US and Irish counterparts if they too wish to exercise their right of conscience to decline services to same-sex weddings.

“Defeating the idea of changing the definition of marriage at the Turnbull Government’s promised plebiscite on same-sex marriage is our best chance to protect basic freedoms,” he said.

Here is footage of the media conference the McArthur’s gave before they headed into court yesterday.