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AIBU to think that everyone's rights can't always apply.

(14 Posts)
JessM Fri 13-Dec-13 16:21:01

Human rights sound like a good thing but, but,but...
There was the case of the people who owned a hotel who thought it was their religious right to not do business with gay couples. Of course the gay couples though this was an infringement of their rights.
I've also come across it in the workplace - very religious person objects to mild blasphemous swearing - but is this an infringement of the swearers right to free speech? Or a woman's right not to hear sexist language while working - same problem applies.
Is there a hierarchy of these rights whereby one trumps the other? Why are some rights protected in the law and not others? Or is it all getting silly and we'd be best of thinking of a new way to talk about all this? Should we ditch the EU human rights legal framework and start again?

janeainsworth Fri 13-Dec-13 16:37:05

Rights have to be balanced by duties, don't they?
So that in the case you cite above Jess, the gay couple's right to sleep together in the same room should perhaps have been balanced by their duty to consider the feelings of the B&B owners; and the hotel owners' supposed right to refuse to do business with gay people was balanced by their duty to comply with the laws on sexual discrimination.
I think that particular case was quite clearcut, since the law is clear, but the problems arise when cases turn on what is the definition of sexist, blasphemous etc, and whether feelings have been hurt, since the law cannot define these things.
As ever, we rely on the judiciary to decide what is the definition of reasonableness.

Soutra Fri 13-Dec-13 16:55:47

But perhaps we have slipped into a mindset where if something has not been legislated against, it must be right or indeed a right , as opposed to what I think used to be our way of thinking- consideration and common sense within the bounds of the law.

Nelliemoser Fri 13-Dec-13 17:43:17

It is very difficult to judge whose rights trump whose. Some wise and learned person needs to give some ground rules for making such decisions.

With the couple running their B & B if they are selling services to the public then they should have to abide by the anti discrimination laws. They could decide to apply something similar to non married heterosexual couples.

I would also suggest that any couple in a b& b should think about who is in the room next door and have the good manners not to embarrass others in the house by indulging in very noisy sex.

People should also think about basic "good manners" limits to public displays of affection as well as the existing laws about public decency.

Nonu Fri 13-Dec-13 17:51:15

The BB"S owners were worldly enough to run a B&B business , so how can they start putting their values in place .
They either want to make a little money or not . When one is in business the customer is right !!

IMO tchsmile

Agus Fri 13-Dec-13 18:09:11

Spot on Soutra. That is my thinking anyway and throw in some logic.

Recently heard of a situation whereby a family had travelled from various parts of the country to be at the bedside of another family member who was dying. The only empty room available for this family to grieve together was in fact a room in the hospital solely for Muslims to pray. I am not at all highlighting any religion but I would like to think that anyone, regardless of their religious beliefs would see that, at that moment in time, another family needed somewhere to be together.

JessM Fri 13-Dec-13 18:19:55

Hum - second hand info agus so I don't suppose you have any more details.
You don't say whether they had use of the room or not - presumably it was empty for a lot of the day?
Surely most hospitals have a generic quiet room these days where staff, visitors or patients of any persuasion or none can pray or meditate?
A room for a grieving family is a different thing altogether.

Agus Fri 13-Dec-13 19:13:25

This was told to me by a close friend who later took her complaint further only to be told that the room in question was solely for Muslim prayers. Regardless of the fact that it was not in use, they were not allowed to occupy it. The only other, generic room, was in fact occupied as happens in a large city hospital.

absent Fri 13-Dec-13 19:17:52

EU Human Rights legislation is much more important than narrow-minded hotel-keepers and gay couples and shouldn't be ditched.

Agus Fri 13-Dec-13 19:43:12

I just want to add. I trained and worked in a large city hospital and we had to deal with more than one death on the ward. We had a family/relatives room available for families to either be alone together or a member of staff to sit with them but when the family room was occupied, we always looked for alternatives for other families be it a quiet corner or I would invite them to use the nurses station which was not always ideal as I had to attend to the needs of other patients whilst allowing them some privacy. An empty room for this purpose should be and used to be used on a first come basis. So in answer to the OP, there is a time when everyone's rights can't or shouldn't always apply.

Maniac Sat 14-Dec-13 09:55:10

And grandparents don't have any rights to contact with their grandchildren!!!

thatbags Sat 14-Dec-13 10:14:11

If people open a business to let beds out to other people, then they've no right to discriminate against certain kinds of people. If they can't cope with "certain kinds of people" then they're in the wrong business. Nothing complicated about that.

Most problems arise because of 'sensibilities' that are not based on solid ground.

Freedom for all includes the freedom to feel offended by others. It's something we have to accept and live with if we believe in freedom for all – there will always be things some people object to but which do no actual harm to anyone else.

Sexist language can only be 'cured' by education, not by banning. And even then, some people will continue to be sexist because there will always be some people who are just plain nasty. A "grown up" society will accept this and make laws to deal with damaging offensiveness. The rest of the time, we just have to lump it and feel offended.

thatbags Sat 14-Dec-13 11:23:19

So yes, in answer to the title question, you are right to think that everyone's rights can't always apply. No, I'll qualify that, the rights people think they have (e.g. to discriminate against gays in the example given) don't always apply. And certainly the right not to be offended, e.g. by hearing other people's swearing or sexism, doesn't apply.

The recent attempt to impose gender segregation at university talks is an example of people thinking they have a right when they don't. The "deeply held belief" that men and women should be seated separately and apart simply does not apply in a free society. It's completely irrelevant that it is a deeply held belief of one group of people. The right of people to choose where they sit in a university auditorium trumps that deeply held belief (based on what? Misogyny?) by several orders of magnitude.

In a free society beliefs do not have to be respected, only people. So those people who deeply hold a belief that women and men should be seated separately have every right to believe that if they want, but the rest of us don't have to take any notice of them by changing our behaviour to accommodate their belief thatw e strongly disagree with. If they feel they can only talk to segregated audiences, that's their problem, not ours. They are self-limiting; we are not limiting them by saying their belief is irrelevant in our culture.

BAnanas Sat 14-Dec-13 20:55:03

I second that bags, many of us have said it all before but the onus should be in fitting in with the ideals we hold dear in our country, it's taken us years to get to where we are now, we can't step back. We absolutely must fight segregation of any kind it would be a retrograde step to endorse this nonsense. I don't care about people who want segregated lectures, possibly they demand these things to either be provocative or push the boundaries. We wouldn't put up with it, and rightly so, if it was on the grounds of race, why should gender be any different? Perhaps they should go to a university in Saudi not Britain if they just can't bear to mix with the opposite sex!

Can't write too much today as I am sitting in a hotel room over looking Copacabana beach albeit cloudy and there's an awful lot of Brazilian drumming going on so can't hear myself think!