LGBT rights debate- Jamie Bryson V Steve Donnan

A debate has been organised between prominent LGBT rights activist Steve Donnan and opponent of gay marriage Jamie Bryson. The online debate will be chaired by award winning Irish News journalist Allison Morris. 

The debate will take place on Friday 5th of June at 7pm-8pm via Google Hangouts, where both participants will be able to interact with one another and with the chair. 

To facilitate different voices and views, questions can be submitted by twitter users up until Thursday 4th June at 12 noon. Five questions will be selected for Jamie and five for Steve. Users can submit their questions using #AskBrysondebate or #AskDonnandebate 

Steve and Jamie will both spend five minutes outlining their positions before answering the selected questions that have been submitted, this will then lead onto a free flowing debate for 20 minutes between Jamie and Steve. 

At the end of the debate Allison will select random questions that have been submitted via twitter during the debate and pose these to Jamie and Steve, neither of whom will have any prior knowledge of the questions. 

Steve said “following online questions posed to him about his attitude to LGBT rights, Jamie has said he would be happy to take part in a debate on these issues, so I am happy to engage with him in a conversation around what is a very important issue to many. All too often people in this country can entrench themselves in their own positions and refuse to reach out to one another so I hope Jamie and I can break that mould and listen to one another, talk openly and honestly and engage in the lost art of conversation. LGBT rights is an issue close to my heart so I hope to be able to express my views within the context of a respectful and civilised debate.”

Jamie said “I look forward to a robust but respectful debate. It is easy for people to hide behind keyboards and hurl abuse, I respect the fact that Steve has come forward and wishes to engage in a face to face public debate. I welcome the opportunity to articulate my views on the subject and also to respectfully listen to Steves position on the issue of LGBT rights and equality. This will not be a shouting match, I respect Steve as a person and a human being, it is only his view on these matters I am opposed to.” 

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You can’t have your cake and eat it- critique of ruling in Gareth Lee v Ashers

Today’s ruling in the Gareth Lee V Ashers bakery case sets a dangerous precedent and it feeds those activists pursuing an aggressive gay agenda with more ammunition with which to persecute their war on freedom of conscience and also upon religious and moral principles and beliefs. The gay rights activists do not seek equality; they seek to pervert the true meaning of equality to use it as a weapon to enable their ‘rights’ to trump the rights of those who object to their practices or sexual preferences on religious or moral grounds. 

The ruling, in my mind, is a flawed one which is open to appeal on many levels. The Judge has allowed the rights of the “gay activists”, who purposefully and maliciously targeted a Christian run bakery, to trump the rights of those who hold deep religious and moral convictions. In delivering her judgement the judge made reference to a disputed ‘fact’- that she believed the bakery knew or had reason to suspect that the plaintiff was gay, this is a flawed and illogical assumption because the greater number of those who describe themselves as “LGBT activists” are not actually themselves gay. Therefore the judge has based a key issue, which she drew heavily upon as part of a balancing exercise between competing rights-which the judge herself acknowledged existed- upon a flawed and misinformed assumption that because a person is a gay rights supporter or activist that it would be ‘reasonable’ to believe that the person was gay. 

This reasoning stretches the boundaries of the law and goes far and beyond the protections that are offered, it effectively means that you can discriminate against not only a person but an idea or a belief- that is dangerous territory for any society to enter and it could quite realistically open the floodgates for not only an assault on Christianity but also upon a whole range of political, religious and moral beliefs and convictions. It creates a de facto right not to be offended by the back door. 

Ashers bakery did not refuse to bake a cake for the plaintiff because they suspected he was gay, they refused to bake the cake because they disagreed with the idea or belief the slogan on it espoused. As a matter of fact they disagreed, based on deep moral and religious convictions, with the gay rights propaganda message that the cake was to carry. 

It is also worth pointing out that gay marriage is unlawful in Northern Ireland, so it is also an issue that Ashers have been punished for refusing to produce propaganda supporting an illegal act. How bizarre that the Courts, at the behest of the publicly funded equality commission, would persecute a Christian family run business for refusing to provide propaganda promoting illegal activity. Some may say that is an unrealistic stretch of the law, well given the stretch in the law that Judge Brownlie made today I believe that the law is now open to be stretched in a whole manner of bizarre and illogical directions. 

Equality has no logical trajectory, boundaries or parameters. It provides for an anything goes society, as long as it makes anyone happy. It will corrode and destroy every moral fibre of society because society will be expected to accommodate every immoral act based upon the fatally flawed notion of equality. What if a man decides he wants to have three wives? Should marriage be re-defined again to allow for three consenting women to be married to one man? If we following the trajectory of equality then most certainly a man should be allowed three wives so the question I then pose is where does ‘equality’ stop? What does ‘equality’ actually mean? It appears to me that equality is a weapon to be used to coerce and force people to promote or accept practices, causes or beliefs that they oppose for religious, moral or general conscientious reasons. 

Let’s look at just one example of the logic of todays ‘equality’ ruling in relation to businesses. Sean Kelly, the IRA Shankill bomber, could walk into a bakery on the Shankill Road and ask for a cake to be made commemorating fellow Shankill bomber Thomas Begley. Providing the message on the cake did not breach the prevention of terrorism act by encouraging future acts of terrorism and only ‘glorified’ terrorism in a historical/past tense then the bakery would be duty bound to make this cake or face being brought before the courts for discrimination on political grounds. Freedom from discrimination on political grounds is offered the same protections within the law as discrimination on sexual orientation. Now in my mind, and in the mind of any right thinking person, the Shankill bomb was not a political act but it was an act of pure terrorism but Sean Kelly was afforded, by the perverse Belfast Agreement, political status by being released as a ‘political prisoner’ on the basis of an internationally backed political agreement, therefore following the precedent set today a Republican could ask for a cake glorifying the Shankill bomb or any other act of republican terrorism and hide under the cloak of freedom from discrimination on political grounds to force the business into complying or face a discrimination case. That is the reality of the bizarre and outrageous possibilities opened up by this outrageous ruling. 

There is also an illogical and bizarre argument put forward, quite often by those who support the devolved Stormont institutions, that gay marriage should be allowed because it is allowed in the rest of the UK and therefore it would be anti-unionist to oppose it here in Northern Ireland. This nonsensical argument once again tries to ride two horses- firstly those who are devout supporters of Northern Irelands ‘special circumstances’ and devolved powers, which allows the assembly to make their own mind up on gay marriage and other issues, want to override the ‘special circumstances’ and slavishly follow the ‘mother parliament’ to force through gay marriage legislation. Secondly most Unionists would trace our heritage back to the signing of the Ulster Covenant and the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force, which later became the 36th Ulster Division fighting as part of the British Army, yet those who perpetuate the argument that we should follow the mother parliament wish to cling to the legacy of our forefathers that framed and signed the convenant whilst conveniently ignoring the fact that the Ulster Volunteer Force/36th Ulster Division was formed to resist the mother parliament, by all means necessary, in relation to the Home Rule bill. 

What is clear is that those celebrating today’s ruling cannot ignore the possibilities for an opening of the floodgates for all sorts of bizarre cases and indeed whilst it is the right of freedom of conscience that has been trumped on this occasion, there is a flip side to that coin which means that gay businesses could quite reasonably be forced to produce merchandise, cakes etc. which condemn gay marriage and which may carry slogans that while being totally lawful, a gay person may find deeply offensive, such is the can of worms that has been opened. You can’t have your cake and eat it!

Do not be fooled by the faux ‘hardening’ of attitudes by those within PUL community who are Trojan horse enablers! 

I have recently noticed a faux hardening of attitudes amongst sections of the PUL community who have previously been, and continue to be, wedded to the peace process and the failed Stormont system that is sustained by the DUP. 

Many of those who championed the OFMDFM contrived plans to create a ‘neutral’ Northern Ireland, a shared identity, which is code for the dilution of the PUL culture and identity, have now flip flopped and for some unknown reason are effectively trying to out hardline the hardliners. 
These OFMDFM plans would have seen the eradication of bonfires, flags and parading. Many of the main conspirators in these contrived schemes appear to have rowed back and are now occupying the position that has been articulated for many years by those of us who have stood as the last line of resistance, a line of resistance that has managed to stall the relentless Trojan horse of the ‘piece by peace’ process- a Trojan horse that has sadly been facilitated by some within the PUL community who have been happy to join hand in hand with SF/IRA for financial gain. A few scraps of the OFMDFM table have been enough for many people to sacrifice the principles of Ulster Protestantism. Those who have sold their soul long ago have a bare faced cheek to pretend that they have now had some kind of Damascus moment and are all of a sudden resisting in defence of the PUL culture and identity! Shame on them! 
Some people may be fooled by a sudden ‘hardening’ of attitudes by those who are still inextricably linked to the DUP sustained peace process, I am not. It is a scheme and it is a scam and no doubt at the end of these contrived manoeuvres lies yet another financial pot as a reward for the conspirators, who pretend to  be ‘hardline’ as a means of trying to lessen the influence of those who have stood in resistance to this sham process- whilst the flip floppers have acted as sustainers of the process and enablers of the IRA Trojan horse! 

I do not forget who stood behind the people of Ulster in defence of the Union flag, a just a noble cause! 

Online blogging is not journalism- except in the fantasy land of the ‘politicos’ 

In recent months I have had a number of online encounters with persons who describe themselves as ‘journalists’. One particular ‘journalist’,  took umbrage to a previous post I had written on my own blog where I had challenged the notion that writing blogs or contributing online counted as journalism. I do not believe it does and because I refused to concede this point , this ‘journalist’ bizarrely accused me of not caring about the working class and further went on to say that you could not become a journalist in this country unless you had the right ‘connections’. This is precisely the type of fantasy that is indulged much too frequently by people who should know better. Many of the journalists I know are far more working class than some of the self-appointed ‘journalists’ that chastise them. 

Of course I will be the worst in the world amongst the ‘politicos’ for even raising this subject, but I feel it is important that there is a clear distinction between blogging, commentary, opinion and journalism. 

I write blogs, this does not make me a journalist. I even write opinion pieces and commentate on political developments from my own political perspective- does this make me a journalist? Of course not! Following the logic of the position adopted by the self-appointed, I am as ‘qualified’ to call myself a journalist as many of the bloggers and online ‘politicos’ who have given themselves that title- how bizarre is that? 

The only difference between me and many of the bloggers and ‘politicos’ who call themselves journalists is that there is an online culture that embraces any sort of wish washy fluffy liberal writing, it is encouraged and promoted, unlike the views that I would articulate which are dismissed as ‘extreme’. Therefore any sort of tree hugging analysis or blogging is passed off as journalism. I could sit in my bedroom and write my own ‘news’ online all day, does this make me a journalist or a news outlet? 

The reality is that many online ‘journalists’ have appointed themselves and rather than going through the hard work of working their way up the industry, they have instead developed a victim complex, complained that they do not have the right connections (as a means of excusing either their lack of talent or lack of desire to work from the bottom up) and decided that they will become their own self-publishing ‘correspondent’. This is entirely the kind of behaviour that will see the destruction of traditional media and journalism- ironically by the very same people who claim to love this particular industry. In fact the working class people who have fought their way up the journalism ladder could end up losing out in favour of this new type of online ‘journalism’. 

Sadly sites like Slugger have at times encouraged this blurring of the lines between blogging and real journalism. Slugger is a blogging and commentary site yet many of the contributors have used it as a platform to pass themselves off as ‘journalists’. 

You may wonder why I care about this subject, well I don’t particularly. It is simply more of an irritant and one in which I feel there needs to be a debate around. Unlike some I have refused to pander to this online culture of revolutionary ‘journalism’ and furthermore I have refused to afford these self-appointed ‘commentators’ and ‘journalists’ the legitimacy they seem to demand. Of course I will be a “bully” for refusing to join in the club, nothing could be further from the truth, I am simply just willing to address the elephant in the room when it comes to online ‘journalism’.

Ombudsman report exposes corruption at heart of PSNI case against me

I have finally received confirmation that the Police Ombudsman has completed their investigation into my complaints of serious misconduct by the PSNI in relation to their political and malicious contrived handling of the ‘case’ brought against me. 
 This report was of course withheld because its findings are so damaging to the PSNI that the case against me would have been dismissed immediately, sadly the Police Ombudsman contrived a ‘review’-of their own findings- so as to ensure that the evidence contained within the report, which entirely contradicts so called ‘evidence’ given, under oath, to the court by PSNI officers up to the rank of Assistant Chief Constable. It also dismisses the myth that ‘no minutes exist’ of the secret meetings the PSNI held, minutes do exist and this report will prove it. 

Unsurprisingly this ‘review’ was completed on the 7th May, one day after the end of my case. I will let people make up their own mind on that. 

The letter I received confirmed that recommendations have been made to the Service Improvement Department of the PSNI; this is the body within the PSNI that deals with misconduct by officers. This also is acknowledgement that my complaints of misconduct by PSNI officers have been upheld. 

The above casts a dark shadow over the so called process of justice; officers who have been found guilty of misconduct in relation to my case were taken at their word by the Judge. It is imperative that this report is now released in its entirety, not only to me, but to the public. 

This report will be introduced as evidence in my case in the appeal courts. I must say it is rather ironic that it seems the very officers that Judge Bagnall lauded as truthful witnesses are some of those who could face internal disciplinary procedures for misconduct and corruption in relation to the handling of my case. I surmise that the Judge may feel rather short changed when it becomes apparent that those she believed were in fact the guilty ones.

The future of Loyalism 

Below is a piece written for the Long Kesh Inside out website as part of their ‘what does it mean to be a loyalist series’. 

Loyalism means many different things to many different people. It is a term that has been used by the middle classes to create an underclass within Unionism, but this is not the narrative of loyalism that I subscribe to. I am proud to call myself loyalist. 

In my mind loyalism springs from the well of Biblical Protestantism. This is not a view that all would agree with, there are some who feel that loyalism is better detached from Protestantism, which some believe shackles the political development of the working class loyalist people due to a reliance on traditional Christian principles, principles that those who make this argument claim are outdated and which stand in the way of progression. I do not subscribe to this viewpoint. I believe it is wrong and I believe that once you attempt to effectively take God out of the ‘For God and Ulster’, then you are abandoning our true history and heritage.  I believe that the majority of those who signed the covenant would have been conservative minded persons, I believe this because they signed a covenant which sought to place trust in God and which drew heavily upon the Bible. The very motto of the Ulster Volunteers from its formation was, and remains, For God and Ulster. I have written extensively about my views on this particular issue previously on Long Kesh Inside Out. The piece ‘For God and Ulster- Traditional loyalism in modern society’ expands my views on this specific point much wider than I intend to in this short essay. 

The challenge facing loyalism today is how to build a cohesive movement from the ground up. In previous times the political success of loyalism has been an upside down pyramid with no community base to sustain the electoral success. The main challenge is to firstly build a strong base of community and civic activism and then to dovetail this into a political movement that can bring meaningful and sustained electoral success. For this to succeed loyalism must find a way  for those with conservative views, such as mine, to co-exist alongside those persons who feel loyalism is better served by progressive left wing politics. I have no doubt that those on the left within loyalism care deeply about loyalism and believe their view is the correct one; however I strongly disagree and believe that Biblical Protestantism and Loyalism are entwined and for that reason I believe that socialism and left wing politics is against the founding principles of Ulster Loyalism. The danger for loyalism is that we turn inwards on ourselves and fracture along the lines of left-right politics. The new political dispensation has caused loyalism to have to clearly define itself to be able to play any meaningful role in the political process, as of yet I believe loyalism has been unable to do this and as a result we have many different narratives and views of what loyalism actually is. No one can deny that it is a mixed bag. 

All genuine loyalists, regardless of their political views, will want to empower and grow our communities, so the potential is there to create a strong base of civic activism, how this can then dovetail into a cohesive political movement is the challenge which loyalism faces. It is not an easy challenge and nor is it one that will be easily overcome. Before we even get to addressing the area of political policies on the left or the right, there is the issue of those who are pro agreement and those who are anti agreement. I am unashamedly anti agreement, this does not mean I am anti peace, it means I am anti peace at any price. I believe the Belfast, St Andrews and Hillsborough agreements have led the Unionist people down a blind alley. My views on this won’t change and I am sure those who are pro agreement won’t change their mind either, so how do we find an arena for these differing viewpoints to co-exist and furthermore where those who hold these different viewpoints can work positively together for the betterment of the PUL community? 

In the principles of loyalism the author recounts six core principles of conflict transformation as was drawn up by the Combined Loyalist Military Command. Number three on the list states “we defend the right of anyone or group to seek constitutional change by democratic, legitimate and peaceful means” and number four states “We recognise and respect the rights and aspirations of all who abide by the law regardless of religious, cultural, national or political inclinations”. The aforementioned principles make clear that loyalism defends the right of every person to lawfully express their political viewpoint without fear of coercion. This must apply internally within loyalism as well as externally within the wider political framework. Every person should have the right to express their view of what loyalism is and furthermore to articulate their vision of how loyalism develops and remains politically relevant. 

The questions I was asked to address within this piece have no right or wrong answer. You could ask ten different people and you will get ten different views. I have written extensively on my view of what loyalism is and what it means to be a loyalist, so rather than simply rehash old writings and views I have sought to address myself more to the challenges facing loyalism. I believe the challenges can be met and can be overcome but to do so loyalism must move forward as a cohesive movement consisting of those willing, it is fruitless and pointless to try and drag loyalism in one political direction or the other by attempting to force those who disagree to proceed whilst kicking and screaming. This will lead only to a fatal fracturing of loyalism.  You cannot reach inside a man and change his mind or turn his heart and nor should any man be expected to reach inside himself and sell his own soul at the coercion of others.

Jamie Bryson