Europe

'Christian firm' refuses to print gay couple's invitations

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Media captionJonathan Brennan said he had used the printing firm for over four years, as Shane Harrison reports

An Irish printing firm has refused a gay man's request to print invitations for his civil partnership ceremony, because of its Christian beliefs.

Beulah Print and Design, based in Drogheda, County Louth, confirmed it had declined an order from Jonathon Brennan, one of their former customers.

The company said its staff were "Bible-believing Christians" who did not support same-sex marriage.

Mr Brennan told the Irish Independent he was "infuriated and shocked".

The 29-year-old businessman, who owns a salon in Drogheda, is due to enter a civil partnership with his boyfriend of eight years, John Kierans, in August.

He told the newspaper he had been a customer of the printing company for four years, before it refused to accept his order.

Mr Brennan said the firm's co-owner, Noel Tuite, initially agreed to print the invitations, but visited Mr Brennan's salon on Wednesday to explain the order would be declined.

'Lifestyle'

Another co-founder of the firm, Mike O'Leary, told the BBC that although he accepted that there are people who practise homosexuality, he did not hold a "morally neutral" attitude towards it.

Mr O'Leary said that as a Christian he did not agree with a gay "agenda or lifestyle", and objected to same-sex marriage.

He added he was aware in passing of a similar case in Northern Ireland last year, when a Christian-owned bakery firm refused to bake a cake with a logo supporting gay marriage.

He said he agreed with Ashers Baking Company's decision to decline the cake order.

It was not the first time Beulah Print and Design has refused orders on the grounds of their religious beliefs.

Halloween

Mr O'Leary said that 10 years ago, they declined a similar request to print invitations for a gay ceremony abroad.

He added they have also refused request to print materials that promote binge drinking, Halloween, "borderline pornography" and what he described as "the dark arts".

Mr O'Leary co-founded the firm 12 years ago, after meeting Mr Tuite through Christian fellowship meetings in Drogheda.

Members of three families are now employed at the printing company.

In a statement, the firm said: "We, at Beulah Print, are Bible-believing Christians who are committed to standing by our conscience and God's Word.

"We have been in business for 12 years during which time we have held to our convictions and have at times declined a variety of work which we felt was clearly contrary to our beliefs.

"We have never hidden our faith from our customers and represent the gospel at every opportunity. We are not against homosexuals however, we do not support same sex marriage, which printing wedding invitations would do.

"We believe the love of God is extended to all people and that He has called us all to walk in the light of His word, for He is the way, the truth and the life."

The Republic of Ireland is due to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage in May.

In Northern Ireland, the so-called gay cake row has led to a bid by the Democratic Unionist Party to build a conscience clause into equality law.

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