Ashers 'gay cake' appeal heard by Supreme Court in Belfast

Elias Hubbard
May 1, 2018

BAKERY that was found to have discriminated over its refusal to make a wedding cake with a slogan supporting gay marriage will have its appeal heard by the highest court in the United Kingdom later today.

The issue was Ashers "would not provide a cake with a message supporting a right to marry for those of a particular sexual orientation", the court ruled.

Tatchell's comments come as the highest court in the United Kingdom is sitting in Belfast today and tomorrow, considering an appeal in the protracted legal action against Ashers by the Equality Commission.

Ashers Bakery are challenging the ruling over their decision - in 2014 - not to make a cake iced with the slogan "Support Gay Marriage".

Mr Lee, a gay rights activist, had requested a cake depicting Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie and the controversial motto for an event to mark International Day Against Homophobia.

"But we're not on our own and we continue to trust daily in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to equip us with everything we need".

Backed by the Equality Commission, Mr Lee sued, claiming he was left feeling like a lesser person.

In the original court case, District Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled that religious beliefs could not dictate the law and ordered the firm to pay damages of £500.

In late 2016, the bakery lost an appeal to that ruling, and past year launched an appeal in the UK Supreme Court.

Before entering the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast the bakery's general manager, Daniel McArthur, reiterated their problem has always been the message, not the customer.

Mr McArthur said: "We didn't say no because of the customer; we'd served him before, we'd serve him again".

"We'd rather it hadn't come to this".

Also speaking outside the court, Dr Michael Wardlow from the Equality Commission Northern Ireland said the case is about a business being accountable to "settled laws" when offering services in public realm, not about quashing convictions or views.

"They think that some people are more equal than others".

The case against Ashers was taken by Mr Lee with support from Northern Ireland's Equality Commission.

He said it was plainly a case of compelled speech.

Mr Scoffield added that the McArthur family were being forced to use their skills, trade and experience for a goal inconsistent with their beliefs and claimed they must "choose between operating their businesses or living and acting in accordance with their religious beliefs, and we say that can not be the law".

"Mr and Mrs McArthur have been penalised by the state, in the form of the judgment at the county court, for failing through their family company to create and provide a product bearing an explicit slogan "Support Gay Marriage" to which they have a genuine objection in conscience".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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