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Christian business owner refuses to serve trans customer

Nigel Williams, a Christian working at a printing business, has refused to print an order of business cards for a trans diversity consultant in Southampton, claiming that to fulfill the order would be to promote a cause that marginalises Christians. The business card order was placed by Joanne Lockwood, a transgender woman, whose company, See Change Happen, advises businesses on equality, diversity and inclusion. Humanists UK condemns all discrimination on the basis of gender identity. All customers should be able to access goods and services equally regardless of the religious beliefs of proprietors.

Mr Williams’ dispute is being supported by the Christian Institute, an evangelical campaigning organisation, which unsuccessfully defended homophobic discrimination in a similar case in 2016. That case set a precedent that prejudicial religious beliefs cannot be used to circumvent equality laws or justify discrimination against persons possessing a protected characteristic, such as those from the LGBT community. It is likely that this judgment will have a bearing on the outcome of the business card dispute.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘It is not acceptable for discriminatory practices against trans people to be permitted under the disguise of religious freedom. We would not accept the arguments made by Mr Williams if he wanted to discriminate on the basis of race, age, sex, or any other characteristics protected by our equality laws, and we should not accept it with regards to people from the LGBT community. Such disputes are fuelling a false narrative of Christian persecution in this country, when all that is being asked is that businesses serve everyone alike, whether they be straight, cisgender, LGBT, or have some other innate characteristic. It is a matter of equality and equal representation before the law.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact Richy Thompson, Director of Public Affairs and Policy at richy@humanism.org.uk or 020 7324 3072.

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

Humanists UK recently changed its name from the British Humanist Association: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/05/22/bha-becomes-humanists-uk/

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