This week, new Sexual Orientation Regulations were introduced in Northern Ireland. They mean that businesses and organisations can no longer discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation. The regulations are due to be implemented across the rest of the UK on 1st April this year.
Heaven and Earth sent Ashley Blake to Northern Ireland to investigate this controversial legislation and speak to religious leaders about why they object to it. He sent a lesbian couple to various B&B establishments to see if they could get a double room. They were successful on every occasion.
After the report, a panel, consisting of Ben Summerskill, Stephen Nolan and Andrea Minichiello Williams, discussed the issue with the programme's host, 80s fashion icon, Gloria Hunniford.
Stephen argued that a Protestant taxi driver wouldn't refuse a Catholic person a ride or ask a potential customer to prove that they were Protestant. Ben put it to the rest of the panel that, at the moment, a Christian hospice has every right to turn a dying person away if he or she is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered. Andrea claimed the government were upholding the rights of a small minority at the expense of the rights of Christians. Apparently, Christians love us queers, but they don't want to facilitate our sexual relations. It would play on their consciences, you see, so they want to retain the right to turn us away. Perhaps she'd also like to be able to refuse products and services to Jews, Muslims, Buddhists or other non-Christian faith groups? Or would she like members of the Ku Klux Klan to be able to turn black people away from their businesses? After all, it might play on their conscience if they gave a dirty nigger a sip of water from one of their whites only cups.
At a time when people all over the world were celebrating the birth of a child who grew into a man advocating peace and love, Andrea was advocating a policy of hate, discrimination and intollerance. She'd like to be able to turn a Jew away from her inn. How very Christian.