Sunday 4 December 2016

Gay cake row: Ashers bakery to appeal ruling that they discriminated against a gay man

Michael McHugh

Published 28/05/2015 | 12:38

Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Bakery leaving Belfast County Court yesterday. Photo: PA
Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Bakery leaving Belfast County Court yesterday. Photo: PA
Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Bakery Photo credit: Stephen Kilkenny/PA Wire
Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Baking Company
Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Baking Company, outside Belfast County Court where he reads a statement to the media following a ruling that the bakery discriminated against a gay man when they refused to make a cake carrying a slogan that promoted same-sex marriage. Photo: Stephen Kilkenny/PA Wire
Gay rights activist Gareth Lee at Belfast County Court yesterday. Photo: PA

The Christian owners of a bakery found to have discriminated against a gay man are to appeal.

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A judge at Belfast County Court ruled that Ashers Baking Company acted unlawfully by declining an order from gay rights activist Gareth Lee last year.

Gay rights activist Gareth Lee. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Gay rights activist Gareth Lee. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Mr Lee, a member of the LGBT advocacy group Queer Space, wanted a cake featuring Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie with the slogan Support Gay Marriage.

Read more here: Gay cake row bakery 'limiting services' to only provide birthday and baby-related celebration cakes  

Bakery owners the McArthur family said: "After much careful and prayerful consideration given to legal advice, we have decided to appeal the judgment handed down last Tuesday.

"We continue to insist that we have done nothing wrong as we have discriminated against no individual but rather acted according to what the Bible teaches regarding marriage.

"As many other people have already noted, Christian beliefs seem to have been trampled over in this judgment and we believe this only has negative effects for our society."

Read more here: 'Gay cake' row was much more than a storm in a tea cup  

The cake was ordered for a private function in Bangor, Co Down, to mark International Anti Homophobia Day last May.

Mr Lee, who paid in full when placing the order at Ashers' Belfast branch, said he was left feeling like a lesser person when he was told his request could not be fulfilled.

Undated handout photo issued by the Christian Institute of Ashers Baking Company owner Colin McArthur, 48, with his wife Karen, 45, and their son Daniel, 25, the General Manager of Ashers, with his wife Amy, 26, and their children Robyn (correct), aged two, and six-month-old Elia (correct), who were taken to court for refusing to make a cake bearing a pro-gay marriage slogan have said faith is sustaining them ahead of the judgment. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday May 18, 2015. Ashers bakery, which is owned and run by the McArthur family, was subject to legal action by a gay rights activist whose order it rejected on religious grounds. Gareth Lee's legal challenge in Belfast County Court was supported and funded by the Northern Ireland Equality Commission - a watchdog body that monitors compliance with the region's anti-discrimination laws. The McArthur family is backed by the Christian Institute, which paid their defence costs. See PA story ULSTER Cake. Photo credit should read: /PA Wire
NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Undated handout photo issued by the Christian Institute of Ashers Baking Company owner Colin McArthur, 48, with his wife Karen, 45, and their son Daniel, 25, the General Manager of Ashers, with his wife Amy, 26, and their children Robyn (correct), aged two, and six-month-old Elia (correct), who were taken to court for refusing to make a cake bearing a pro-gay marriage slogan have said faith is sustaining them ahead of the judgment. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday May 18, 2015. Ashers bakery, which is owned and run by the McArthur family, was subject to legal action by a gay rights activist whose order it rejected on religious grounds. Gareth Lee's legal challenge in Belfast County Court was supported and funded by the Northern Ireland Equality Commission - a watchdog body that monitors compliance with the region's anti-discrimination laws. The McArthur family is backed by the Christian Institute, which paid their defence costs. See PA story ULSTER Cake. Photo credit should read: /PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

The publicly-funded Northern Ireland Equality Commission, which has a statutory duty to monitor anti-discrimination laws, brought the legal action on his behalf.

Ashers employs almost 80 people across six branches and delivers throughout the UK and Ireland.

Read more here: Christian bakery found guilty of discrimination over gay marriage cake will appeal  

The family said they opposed same-sex marriage on religious grounds and could not produce the cake with a message that was contrary to their deeply-held Christian beliefs.

"Our hope and prayer would be that an appeal will allow us and other Christians to live out their faith in Jesus Christ in every part of their lives, including their workplace."

District Judge Isobel Brownlie found the bakers discriminated against Mr Lee on grounds of his sexual orientation and his political beliefs.

Ashers was ordered to pay agreed damages of £500.

Read more here: Equality body that supported gay man in same-sex cake row 'vindicated'  

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