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Businesses criticise minister over same-sex weddings comments

PUBLISHED: 11:23 27 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:24 27 February 2020

The Rev Kyle Paisley said businesses should

The Rev Kyle Paisley said businesses should "not be forced" into catering for same-sex marriages. Inset is Robyn Peoples (left) and Sharni Edwards, who had the first same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. Photo: Archant / Liam McBurney (PA)

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A church minister has been labelled out of touch and discriminatory after declaring businesses should not be ‘forced’ to cater for gay marriages.

Robyn Peoples (left), 26, and Sharni Edwards, 27, at the Loughshore Hotel, in Carrickfergus, after they became the first couple to have a same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. Photo: Liam McBurney / PARobyn Peoples (left), 26, and Sharni Edwards, 27, at the Loughshore Hotel, in Carrickfergus, after they became the first couple to have a same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. Photo: Liam McBurney / PA

The Rev Kyle Paisley, of Lowestoft's Free Presbyterian Church, called for an "absolute opt-out" for businesses who "don't want to do gay marriages", suggesting something like a conscience bill (as was once proposed by the Democratic Unionist Party [DUP] in 2014) would be "a good thing".

Mr Paisley, son of DUP founder Dr Ian Paisley, made his comments following a review of marriage regulations in Northern Ireland, where churches are expected to be given an opt-out clause for same sex ceremonies.

However, marriage service providers, registrars, and those who own businesses catering for weddings will not be allowed to refuse service.

Mr Paisley told the Belfast News Letter: "I don't think anybody should be compelled against their will. It would be selfish for me to say I am only concerned about what happens to churches.

The Rev Kyle Paisley with father, DUP founder Dr Ian Paisley. Picture: Archant LibraryThe Rev Kyle Paisley with father, DUP founder Dr Ian Paisley. Picture: Archant Library

"I think [businesses] should have the same liberties I would want for myself.

"I just wonder how long governments will tolerate that sort of thing. Eventually [churches] will be compelled to tolerate that."

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Local wedding photographers, cake makers and dress makers have criticised the minister for "outrageous" and "out of date" comments.

"It's quite typical of the Church's view at the moment," said Rob Howarth, of Embrace Photography in Kessingland.

"They are backwards thinking. I would personally say he is not in line with the rest of the world and how people think these days, and the Church needs to reconsider.

"It's simply discrimination and an outrageous thing to say."

Mark Flack, director of Lowestoft's A Piece of Cake, said Mr Paisley should recognise times have changed.

"If the Church wants to continue they have to be flexible nowadays. We would not turn away any couple who want to spend their lives together," he said.

"I see it as the couple's business. In modern times you need modern views."

Victor Ling, of Barkers Photos in Great Yarmouth, added: "We should embrace all genders and sexualities. For a minister to discriminate is offensive. He's out of touch with modern business owners."

Mr Paisley was approached for further comment.

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