Debate piece: should business owners be forced to serve LGBTQ couples if it goes against their beliefs?

In the 21st century, religion is no excuse for discrimination. Whether it being homophobia, transphobia, racism or sexism, we should be doing all we can to end such unfounded prejudices. In a society which prides itself on liberalism and tolerance, society should be coming together to shun such outdated views to the past.

Personal views and work should be kept separate. Just because someone is different to you does not give you the right to marginalise them. To refuse to serve someone simply because they are ‘different’ is to take a step into the past back to the days of US segregation. It would be unthinkable to discriminate someone so openly based in skin colour or sex, so why is it not the same for sexuality?

Such discrimination is a reminder for LGBTQ individuals of the vast inequalities between heterosexuals and homosexuals. Despite the popular belief that we live in a liberal and accepting society, the number of reported homophobic hate crimes in the UK rose by 22%% last year to 5,597. However, the actual number or hate crimes committed is estimated to be around four times higher than this as many are still too afraid to speak out. Whether it be children using homophobic slurs on the playground or grown adults refusing to treat LGBTQ individuals like human beings, homophobia is something that haunts the lives of every LGBTQ individual.

Simply refusing to interact with those we don’t agree with is childish and has serious repercussions for society as a whole. Rather than dealing with matters maturely, it is to throw a child-like tantrum and forget all adult behaviour. It encourages young people that it’s ok to treat people differently just because they are different to ourselves.

Ultimately, however, we must remember it is only a minority of people who would be willing to use ‘religion’ as an excuse for such open decimation. But when many LGBTQ individuals are still made to feel marginalised as a result of religion, religion needs to be able to accept criticism and adapt. For too long religion has been put on a pedestal which has been allowed to get away with open acts of sexism and homophobia. In no other part of society would you able to get away with such discriminatory behaviour, so religion should be as vulnerable to criticism as anywhere else. LGBTQ activists work tirelessly to promote equality, but it’s about time that the straight, cis-gendered people of the world took it upon themselves to end such homophobia; there is only so much success a minority can achieve without the mainstream help of the majority.

While most people would be advocates of equality, the fact that these questions even still need to be asked shows how LGBTQ rights have yet to be fully established in society. Ireland’s gay marriage referendum last year highlighted how gay rights are still very much dangling on a string; they are not something cemented.

When the day comes where we stop having to question the establishment of equal rights, we will have equality. But, until then, LGBTQ individuals will continue to live in a perpetual state of not knowing who will question their right to a ‘normal’ life next.

Words by Juliette Rowsell

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