There will be no new exemptions for conscientious objection or religious freedom if the same-sex marriage referendum is passed next year, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said in response to a parliamentary question.
Only religious ministers will be protected from having to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies as previously announced.
In response to the questions from Mattie McGrath TD, Minister Shatter said;
“I do not plan to introduce any exemptions from the generality of the equality code in relation to same-sex marriage. The Equal Status Acts 2000-2012 promote equality and prohibit discrimination in the provision of goods and services on the grounds of sexual orientation and civil status, subject to certain exemptions.”
Deputy McGrath's questions were:
“..if parishes will be forced to rent out their halls to same sex couples for their wedding receptions as distinct from the ceremonies; and if he will make a statement on the matter?”
“... if Christian professionals like wedding photographers will be forced to work at same sex marriages if asked; and if he will make a statement on the matter?”
The issue of freedom of conscience with regard to same-sex marriage has already been the subject of debate in the United States, where Arizona Governor Jan Brewer recently vetoed a Bill that would have enshrined existing federal religious freedom legislation in state law.
The Arizona bill would have provided an additional measure of protection to parishes, charity organisations and business with conscientious objections to same-sex marriage. Opponents called the bill a 'license to discriminate' and said that 'religious freedom' was already protected, given that churches will not be forced to perform same-sex marriages.
In the US Christian photographers among others have been successfully sued for refusing to work at same-sex marriage ceremonies.