Stephen Farry MLA: “Equality legislation is already balanced. It contains provision for exemptions in which discrimination can be defended on the basis of ‘genuine occupational requirements’ or ‘genuine service requirements’.
“Conscience clauses, whereby someone can refuse to employ someone or provide a service due to potential conflict with their stated beliefs, can only be considered in very specific and defined circumstances where an exceptional case can be made. No exception could ever be as broad as covering an entire equality ground.
“Any general conscience clause would seriously undermine equality protections and facilitate unjustified discrimination in a wide range of scenarios, with serious implications for many people, including some of the most vulnerable or marginalised in society.”