Firm told to pay gay man €2,500 over refusal to print civil ceremony invites

Beulah Print and Design argued its refusal to provide service based on Christian beliefs

A Co Louth print and design company has been ordered to pay €2,500 to a gay man over its refusal to print invites for his civil partnership ceremony.

A Co Louth print and design company has been ordered to pay €2,500 to a gay man over its refusal to print invites for his civil partnership ceremony.

 

A Co Louth print and design company has been ordered to pay €2,500 to a gay man over its refusal to print invites for his civil partnership ceremony.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) found that Beulah Print and Design discriminated against Jonathon Brennan on the grounds of sexual orientation under Section 3 of the Equal Status Act.

The company said the ruling “tends to force conformity with regard to personal moral choices which many people hold in good faith”.

Mr Brennan (33), from Drogheda, contacted in the company in March 2015 as he wanted to get invites printed for his civil partnership ceremony with his partner John Kierans.

He told the WRC he was “shocked and embarrassed” when Beulah refused as he had done business with the company previously in connection with his hairdressing salon.

Mr Brennan said a co-owner of Beulah told him it could not print the invitations as he and his business partner were Bible believing Christians who did not believe in homosexuality or support gay marriage. He said he was told the company would also refuse to print pictures of naked women due to its beliefs.

The firm’s co-owner said he thought Mr Brennan accepted what he had said but that when he tried to shake his hand, Mr Brennan did not reciprocate.

Orientation

Beulah told the WRC that the refusal of this service was not due to Mr Brennan’s sexual orientation but rather an objection to providing a service in respect of something contrary to its beliefs. It was the subject matter rather than the person requesting the service that the firm had an issue with.

Beulah stated that they would have refused the same request if the request had been made by someone of a different sexual orientation.

WRC adjudication officer Orla Jones stated that Beulah confirmed that its wedding invitation service was available to heterosexual couples which made clear that Mr Brennan could have availed of its if he was a heterosexual man.

“I am thus satisfied that in refusing to provide the service to the complainant the respondent did discriminate against the complainant on the ground of his sexual orientation.”

In a statement on the WRC’s finding, Beulah said that it rejected the ruling as it “simply acted in accordance with the light of our own consciences as followers of Christ”.

The company said it did not refuse Mr Brennan a service “because of who he is or how he chooses to live, indeed we were happy to serve him in the past and would happily continue to serve him in the future”.

“For us, designing and printing invitations to such events would be the lending of our approval and even the promotion of the content and is therefore something we could never do.”

A comment has been sought from Mr Brennan.