Sunday 23 September 2018

Bakers who refused gay cake order will fight on

Daniel McArthur and his wife Amy arrive at the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast. Photo: PA
Daniel McArthur and his wife Amy arrive at the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast. Photo: PA

Michael McHugh

The Christian owners of a bakery found to have discriminated in refusing to make a "gay cake" are being forced to act against their religious beliefs, a lawyer told the UK's Supreme Court.

A lower court ruled the decision of family run Ashers not to bake the product iced with the slogan 'Support Gay Marriage' in 2014 was discriminatory after a legal challenge supported by Northern Ireland's Equality Commission.

The order was placed at its Belfast shop by gay rights activist Gareth Lee.

Bakery owners Daniel and Amy McArthur have said that the law risked "extinguishing" their consciences.

David Scoffield, QC for Ashers, said: "This is a case of forced or compelled speech, unlike other cases which have come before the court."

The UK's highest court, sitting in Belfast, heard the case yesterday.

Campaigner Gareth Lee. Photo: PA
Campaigner Gareth Lee. Photo: PA

Beforehand, Mr McArthur, general manager of Ashers, said: "The Equality Commission has pushed for an interpretation of the law which extinguishes our conscience.

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

Mr McArthur said he should enjoy a basic right to live by his beliefs.

Controversy first flared when Mr Lee, a member of the LGBT advocacy group Queer Space, ordered a cake featuring Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie for a private function marking International Day Against Homophobia.

His order was accepted and he paid in full but, two days later, the company called to say it could not proceed due to the message requested.

Irish Independent

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