THE OWNER OF a well-known Dublin stationery store has responded to criticism he came up against for removing products used in same-sex weddings.
Earlier this week, Paul Barnes found himself in the middle of a gay rights row when he removed a wedding cake-topper of two grooms holding hands from a display in his store.
In a letter published on the company’s Facebook page yesterday, he tried to explain his actions.
“I would like to say that in doing this, it was in no way my intention to cause offence to anyone and I unreservedly apologise for any offence caused,” he wrote.
“I am not homophobic, I have employed gay people in my business and I have never refused to print invitations for civil ceremonies.”
He said his actions were a result of his beliefs and values, learned through the Roman Catholic Church.
The reason I removed the topper was that it is my opinion that it does not reflect the values I try to aspire to.
The letter has not received an entirely positive reaction, with social media users continuing to complain about his policy.
The row became public when Gay Community News (GCN) published letters received from business owner Nicola Hyland who had made the cake-topper.
In response, Barnes clarified that “Daintree does not stock any merchandise that promotes same-sex marriage”.
Here is his letter, in full:
61 Camden Street
To whom it concerns.
Over the past few days I have received many emails and messages through social media expressing a whole range of emotions at a decision I made in my business to remove a same sex cake topper from a display in my shop the Daintree Wedding Hub which is located behind Daintree paper on Camden Street in Dublin.
I would like to say that in doing this, it was in no way my intention to cause offence to anyone and I unreservedly apologise for any offence caused.
I am not homophobic, I have employed gay people in my business and I have never refused to print invitations for civil ceremonies.
I do have beliefs however, and these beliefs are formed and orientated by the Roman Catholic Church, a church of which I am a member. I try to live by its teachings because this church has given me many, many blessings in my life, and in my family for generations.
The reason I removed the topper was that it is my opinion that it does not reflect the values I try to aspire to. These values influence my whole life as can be seen in the Daintree building and the products we sell in our shop which respect and care for the environment. The easy option would have been for me to ignore the topper, however in doing this I would have felt like a total hypocrite.
The mistake was mine in not making it clear to Nicola Hyland, of the Cake Topper company, and indeed the other vendors what I thought was acceptable to display in the Wedding Hub.
I respect and acknowledge the right of those who disagree with me, even those who tried to organise a boycott against the shop, I simply ask the same respect for my freedom.
I wish you all well.