Thursday 21 September 2017

'Gay cake' row bakery's profits up €200k

 

Ashers Bakery lost a Court of Appeal case last year following an Equality Commission ruling which found it had discriminated against a customer for refusing to make a cake with a same-sex marriage slogan on it. Photo: Reuters
Ashers Bakery lost a Court of Appeal case last year following an Equality Commission ruling which found it had discriminated against a customer for refusing to make a cake with a same-sex marriage slogan on it. Photo: Reuters

Simon Rowe

The bakery at the centre of Northern Ireland's 'gay cake' court battle has posted accumulated profits of £1.5m (€1.7m) for 2016, an increase from £1.3m (€1.5m) on the previous year's figure.

Ashers Bakery lost a Court of Appeal case last year following an Equality Commission ruling which found it had discriminated against a customer for refusing to make a cake with a same-sex marriage slogan on it.

But financial accounts for the firm reveal that the controversy has failed to dent its profits.

The Northern Ireland bakery chain, which now has seven outlets across the North, was founded by husband and wife team Daniel and Amy McArthur.

The firm, which employs almost 80 people and delivers throughout the UK and Ireland, recorded a profit rise of £170,500 (€200,000) in 2016.

It was issued with legal proceedings after the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland contended that the business, despite being founded and run by a Christian family, had no right to refuse a request from a customer for a cake bearing an image of Sesame Street characters Ernie and Bert alongside the message 'Support gay marriage'.

The case, which became one of the highest-profile court cases in Northern Ireland in recent years, eventually saw Belfast County Court rule that the bakery had been guilty of illegal discrimination. A Supreme Court appeal is under consideration by the firm's owners.

That ruling was upheld at appeal by the Court of Appeal - despite the bakery owners' argument that the message was incompatible with their Christian beliefs and their sole problem was with the message, not the customer, who had been served before and whose sexual orientation they said they did not know.

The McArthurs and the British Christian Institute, which supported them, are liable for costs that are estimated to be more than £150,000.

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