A Christian printer from Northern Ireland who came under fire for refusing to print a gay magazine is backing proposals for a conscience clause in the Province.
Last year, Nick Williamson said he could not print a publication because its sexually explicit images would go against his Christian faith.
But the magazine’s editor obtained legal advice and the case was referred to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.
Williamson supports the plans to amend equality legislation to introduce a conscience clause.
The proposals were prompted by the case of Ashers Baking Company, which is facing court for declining to produce a pro-gay marriage campaign cake.
Williamson commented, “Ashers and I went about our business in a very gracious manner”. He added that the issue is one of “freedom and liberty of conscience”.
“It was me saying ‘it is not about you but about me saying this goes against my own conscience’.
“Equality is a two-way street, or it is meant to be”, he added.
Lawyers for Ashers deny that they breached any laws, but a conscience clause would help to prevent similar cases being brought in the future against people with firmly-held religious views.
Last week DUP MLA Paul Givan launched a consultation on the conscience clause.
Williamson commented: “I think first of all that it is tragic that it has come to this in the law in our land that we have to try and get something like this passed.”
“But from a point of a view of my faith, obviously I think it is a good thing. However, I don’t think it has to be something that is only used within the boundaries of faith”, he added.
Comedian Stephen Fry has criticised the DUP’s plans on Twitter, claiming that Christians are “twisting truth to present themselves as victims”.
But Givan has reaffirmed his commitment to introducing a conscience clause.
“The LGBT campaigners are adopting a tactic of hysterical responses to it in an effort to try to corner people into not giving this the type of rational consideration that it should merit”, he said.
“I’m trying to create a society where everybody’s rights can be upheld and balanced”, he added.