Friday, March 10, 2006

The implications of the Blarney Case

I have been thinking a lot about the Blarney case since the verdict was reached on Tuesday evening. I know I was somewhat flippant in my initial post but it was more anger and sarcasm and disbelief than anything else.

There is much much more which needs to be said about both the verdict and also the implications for cases involving discrimination on the sexual orientation ground. But putting my thoughts in print about it might say the very unpopular, the unhelpful even. As disturbed as I am about the judgement I question my opinions and their helpfulness at this time. However the lack of response from queer and other groups to the result of the case (whilst unsurprising) might mean that other people are guarding their responses too. In the efforts to bring about equality for lesbians and gay men (especially in terms of relationship recognition) any comment on the other ways lesbians and gay men are discriminated against might be seen to be confusing issues. Maybe people feel that this case is not a good one to make a fuss over – however I have seen or heard nothing to indicate this and the Equality Authority supported the case from the start.

Put simply this judgement will do absolutely nothing to encourage those who are discriminated against in both employment and access to goods and services on the basis of sexual orientation to take cases. Particularly those who would end up taking a case to the District Court.

There …I said it.

This judgement by its statements on morality and lack of a compensation award has in fact legitimised discrimination, cast judgement on behaviour of lesbians and gay men in public, and again indicated to us that we are alien, other, and should go to Dublin or Amsterdam if we want to show affection for each other.

Each year the annual report of the Equality Authority notes the difficulty in getting those who experience discrimination on the sexual orientation ground to come forward and take cases. Anonymity can be granted, there are case workers and legal supports available to assist claimants. However many do not make the call or even follow up on their initial queries to progress cases because they are afraid, they do not think it is worth the stress and hassle and people want to try and get on with their lives.

Anyone who is not lesbian or gay or maybe who is not out might not understand how this judgement can and is being read by those who are in anyway out or comfortable about their sexuality. One (straight) caller to a late night talk show last night summed it up perfectly for me in the midst of lots of ‘that sort of thing should not be allowed ‘ rhetoric.

‘Sure if they go to their own pubs they risk getting their heads kicked in when they come out.’

We’re dammed if we do and we’re dammed if we don’t.

The Equality Authority, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the lesbian and gay movement need to review the legislation and the ways in which plaintiffs/ claimants are encouraged and supported. Michael McDowell needs to say something supportive at this time:-

  • to acknowledge that lesbian and gay realities are about more than getting hitched

  • and that people should be able to show affection for their partners in public and be who they are whether they live in Fananfore or Fanad.


At 09:03, Blogger wulfbeorn said...

Don't you think that property owners should be allowed to decide what goes on in their premises? If the pub owner wants lesbian kissing to be forbidden, optional or compulsory don't you think that should be their call, as the owners? You can vote with your feet for the policies you prefer while respecting the rights of others to do the same. On the other hand, equality legislation attacks property rights, setting a terrible precedent for what politicised interest groups might do in the future.

At 09:54, Anonymous morgan said...

Suzy, thanks for posting this. The judge sounds off the wall, but with unpleasant repercussions.

Wulfbeorn: "you can vote with tour feet" and walk all the way to Dublin or Amsterdam, or campaign for human rights before property rights. Sheesh.

At 09:55, Anonymous morgan said...

typo, sorry. "walk with _your_feet"

At 10:04, Anonymous Simon McGarr said...

Property rights are to be balanced with all other rights. Equality leglislation rightly sets out what society has decided as a whole- that in a clash with the human rights of anyone being discriminated against on any of the nine grounds property rights are subordinate.

At 11:07, Blogger Suzy said...

Wulfbeorn, The defendent holds a licence to serve alcohol to the general public. He either wants to serve the public (whoever they are)or he does not. Pubs aimed at the gay and lesbian community serve people no matter what their orientation because they have to under the the law. They like Malone's are providing a service and should not be allowed to exercise apartheids.

At 11:42, Anonymous EWI said...

Simon and Suzy are right on the nose with this one. "Property" rights aren't the only ones, and there has to be a quid pro quo in return to society.

At 13:53, Anonymous Sarah said...


you are right there are a lot of us thinking about this at the moment. In fact last night one friend said that Myra and Eileen would have been better off losing than getting the judgement that they did. I think they were very brave going all the way on this and do think the strategies you suggest need to be acted on to encourage people to take cases when and if they are discriminated against. Great blog by the way I enjoy dipping in for your take on things.

Keep it up.


At 18:30, Blogger wulfbeorn said...

(1) morgan/ simon mcgarr: on the subject of "human rights" - I put to you both that the right to use your property as you wish is a human right. And it is violated when someone's property is used against their will. If the owners want no lesbian kissing on their property, it violates their human rights for such kissing to take place there. I can see no moral entitlement to use other people's property in whichever way you wish. Actually, that would be the abolition of property rights (something which I guess many people are in favour of).

(2) suzy: we can all agree that apartheid was a terrible governmental institution which violated many people's individual rights. And though I hate to say it, the Equality Authority and the pub licensing system are also government institutions which violate people's rights. It's instructive that when these kinds of controls fail to bring about the desired social outcomes, the Leftist mind does not reject them, but instead looks for more radical measures to heap upon them. And so we observe the phenomenon of a creeping statism, ever greater government interference in our everyday lives, and the loss of freedoms.

I have written about this at great length previously and may dust off some of my old posts on the ideological foundations of equality and anti-discrimination legislation. I should also elaborate on the motivation for property rights, as I see it.

At 12:32, Anonymous Sean R said...

A propos the Blarney case, I see from the UK media that moves are afoot there to combat discrimination similar to this case.

Follow the link to:


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