Belfast bakery wins gay cake court case
BRITAIN’S highest court yesterday said a Northern Irish bakery’s refusal to make a cake bearing a pro-gay slogan was not discriminatory in a ruling condemned by the customer, a gay rights activist, but hailed by the province’s main conservative party.
Ashers Baking in Belfast was found guilty of discrimination in 2015 for refusing to make a cake for a customer iced with the words “Support Gay Marriage” because of the owners’ Christian beliefs.
It failed in an appeal to the local courts in 2016 but the Supreme Court, the UK’s highest judicial body, overturned that decision yesterday, saying the bakers’ objection was to the message on the cake, not to any personal characteristics of the messenger, or anyone with whom he was associated.
“The objection was to being required to promote the message on the cake,” said Brenda Hale, president of the Supreme Court, adding that the conclusion would not in any way diminish the need to protect gay people and people who support gay marriage.
Gareth Lee, a gay rights activist who had ordered the cake, said in reaction to yesterday’s ruling that, “In Northern Ireland, I’m a second class citizen and that’s unfortunate. We don’t have the same rights in Northern Ireland as gay people as we do in the rest of the United Kingdom.”
But the ruling was hailed by the socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party, the province’s largest party that props up Britain’s minority government and has blocked attempts to legalize gay marriage in the province.
Daniel McArthur, who owns the bakery with his wife Amy, said the ruling protected freedom of speech and freedom of conscience for everyone.