Letters: In the ‘Gay cake’ case, the law is half baked

These letters appear in the 21 May edition of The Independent

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A judge in Northern Ireland has ruled that a Christian-run bakery discriminated against a gay customer by refusing to make a cake with a slogan supporting gay marriage.

No doubt the great majority of liberal-minded folk are more than happy that homosexuals are now accorded their proper place in society, and that same-sex couples can have their relationships legally recognised. However, as with many other progressive developments, this one can be taken to extremes.

Maybe the judge felt that as the law stood she could make no other decision. In that case the law, as often, is an ass. The confectioners should surely not be obliged to print propaganda on their cakes, whether it be in relation to homosexuality or anything else. Confectioners are there to bake cakes, not to assist in changing public attitudes.

Let’s have a bit of plain common sense in our lawmaking and judicial processes.

The Rev Andrew McLuskey
Staines, Middlesex


It is good to know where people stand instead of having laws that force them to act hypocritically – unless some major harm would otherwise arise. 

Hence, although I am an atheist and perfectly content for gay marriages to take place, I also have no major problem with Christian bakers declining to ice a sentiment that offends them. After all, there are plenty of other bakers. 

Indeed, were I wanting a cake expressing support for gay marriage through its icing, I should be pleased to learn that Ashers, bakers of Belfast, oppose such marriage. I’d take my business elsewhere and encourage others to do likewise. 

Something about sledge-hammers and nuts comes to mind.

Peter Cave
London W1


What is it with the allegedly “Christian” church?

In recent years we’ve had two “Christian” world leaders declare an illegal war on Iraq; we’ve had sexual abuse revealed in the Catholic Church; now I see a cake shop owned by “Christians” has been taken to task for gay discrimination.

Democratic Unionist politicians have come out (forgive the pun) to say this decision should not have been made against the shop because the owners have a right to their “Christian” attitudes and actions. Where or when, exactly, did Jesus say he espoused such kinds of attitudes or actions?

None of these things seem very Christian to me.

R Kimble


A way to manage migration pressures

Thursday’s net migration figures look set to show another rise in net migration to the UK. While debate will doubtless continue about whether or not the Government can meet its “tens of thousands” target, it needs to take practical action to show  that it is handling the impacts of high immigration.

Our economic success means more people are coming here to work. This brings more tax revenue for the Treasury – but it also means more pressure on school places, housing and the NHS.

We propose a new approach that uses those gains to manage the pressures.

First, we should ensure that the amount of money available in the promised “controlling immigration fund” increases if net migration goes up, to ensure local areas have the resources to manage its impact.

Second, better monitoring of population changes would ensure that more funding goes quickly to those local  areas experiencing the highest levels of migration – to help pay for  more school places and cope with increased demands on housing and GPs’ surgeries.

Immigration brings both pressures and benefits to Britain. Linking the two in a practical policy would help to address the concerns of communities feeling its impacts.

David Goodhart
Director,  Demos Integration Hub

Ryan Shorthouse
Director, Bright Blue

Sunder Katwala
Director, British Future
London WC2


Responsible gambling

The question of what a Government may do with gambling regulation is for them to comment on (letter, 20 May), but as far as betting shops are concerned, responsible gambling is now at the heart of all we do, and members of the Association of British Bookmakers adhere to our mandatory Code for Responsible Gambling.

We are working closely with the Gambling Commission on the introduction of a new, cross-operator self-exclusion scheme which will come into force next year. This scheme, where someone who gets into difficulty with their gambling can in effect ban themselves from a shop, has proved effective, and there has been an increase in the number of people self-excluding since the code came into being.

Shop staff undergo extensive training to ensure they can identify and help someone who is developing signs of becoming a problem gambler.

In terms of helping gaming machine players, for the past 18 months they have been able to set limits for the amount of time they play for or money they spend, and since January, they have been forced to make an active “yes or no” choice about setting a limit before beginning to play. The evidence shows that 225,000 people are now setting – and sticking to – limits each week and 90 per cent of players never reach their limit.

We are not complacent though, and we look forward to working closely with the new government to develop the responsible gambling agenda further.

Peter Craske
Association of British Bookmakers
London SW1


Little sympathy for killer foxes

The letters from L M Smith and Denise Ward (18 May) eloquently set out the opinion of the majority of us as regards the so-called “sport” of fox hunting, but one or two passages in their letters depicting cruelty to the fox mirrored exactly the cruelty inflicted on my half-dozen hens recently by Mr Fox: helpless creatures killed before horrified audiences (the hens waiting their turn) after being chased to exhaustion and then torn to pieces.

A long time ago I watched a fox being chased by the hunt and from a distance I wished it well, but having experienced fox attacks in the last few years I have little sympathy now.

Mike McHugh


I am grateful for the reasoned tone of Eric Carpenter’s response (letter, 16 May) to my argument that support of hunting and a longing for a more inclusive politics are compatible. I hope that the debate to come, when repeal of the Hunting Act is proposed, will be as respectful.

I agree that most farmers do not maintain an expensive horse, nor wear traditional hunting uniform. Nor do I, who follow on foot. Most farmers do, however, take at least a supportive interest and many find within the community of hunting a valued network of support.

I also agree that hunting is often “inefficient” at culling foxes. Herein, though, lies a paradox. In some upland, areas, hunting is an effective means of controlling fox numbers. In most lowland rural areas, however – where farmers and gamekeepers have a strong motivation to eliminate them – hunting has long provided a countering motive to permit and preserve a manageable population of this beautiful but destructive predator.

Philip Martin
Alderholt, Dorset


The supporters of fox hunting justify this so-called sport as an efficient method of “vermin” control. A farmer friend of mine told me of the following incident.

A tenant farmer kept chickens, some of which he lost to a fox. He shot the fox. His landlord warned him that if he killed another fox he would be evicted. The landlord was the local hunt master.

I wonder what alternative method of control he had in mind.

Ray Radley
Horringer, Suffolk


Representing the voters

I have to differ from Malcolm Watson (letter, 19 May), who argues that nobody is unrepresented in Parliament, since MPs represent all of their constituents.

Our newly elected Conservative MP in Mid Dorset and North Poole has declared in our local newspaper that “I will work tirelessly on behalf of the people who voted for me”. That leaves me out of being represented by our MP then. I voted for someone else.

Linda Dickins
Wimborne, Dorset


Labour in the comfort zone

The Labour Party should not be choosing who will be their next leader but who will be the next potential Labour prime minister.

If it doesn’t, Labour will be in the place it feels most comfortable – the safety of the Opposition benches for a long time to come.

Judith Wilkinson
Stockport, Greater Manchester