Balancing action

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Before the dust settles on the Cornish B&B case, a nagging question remains: has the legal process itself resulted in discrimination?

Equality legislation aims to protect certain categories of people against discrimination on grounds of, for example, age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious belief or philosophical belief.

In Mr and Mrs Bull’s case, their religious beliefs came into conflict with the sexual orientation of the gay couple.

So both parties were within categories deemed needful of protection.

In providing a service to the litigants, the courts presumably have a duty to protect Mr and Mrs Bull’s beliefs just as they have a duty to protect the instigators of the action. In the event, it is not evident that the rights of both parties were considered.

By concentrating on the rights of the gay couple, the legal process effectively discriminated against Mr and Mrs Bull. This was surely not the intention of the legislation.

As the Bulls said in their public statement, a way needs to be found for different beliefs and lifestyles to co-exist.

The courts should be expected to balance the interests of both parties in cases like this. The Supreme Court conspicuously failed to attempt that challenging task.

As one commentator said, it is a pity that for one party to win, the other has to be crushed.

The law needs to progress from here if it is to achieve just outcomes in future.

Geoff Miller

Newtyle

Angus

Neil Barber (Letters, 2 December) responds to my recent letter with personal attacks on me. He seems to have convinced himself that I am anti-gay when I am most definitely not.

What I try to be is fair minded. As regards the Bulls, I can understand their position on civil partnerships versus marriage without necessarily agreeing with it. Apparently I am not allowed to comment on it.

Iain Davenport

Mauricewood Park

Penicuik