Wednesday 27 March 2019

'Gay cake' bakers' plea for God's will

COURT FIGHT: Ashers boss Daniel McArthur and his wife Amy
COURT FIGHT: Ashers boss Daniel McArthur and his wife Amy

Aoife Moore

The couple at the centre of free speech ruling in the UK courts over in the 'gay cake' case have urged other Christians to "take their stand".

Last week the UK Supreme Court ruled that Ashers Baking Co had not discriminated on grounds of sexual orientation, religious belief or political opinion in declining to decorate a cake with the message 'Support gay marriage'.

Judges unanimously agreed the bakery had objected to the message and not the messenger.

Shortly after the ruling, Ashers' general manager, Daniel McArthur, and his wife Amy spoke to the Christian Institute, a charity which supports Christians facing LGBT discrimination cases.

In the interview, the McArthurs admitted that the public nature of the case had been difficult, but said they had been comforted by the knowledge that they had done nothing wrong.

Amy McArthur said: "I would say to other Christians to not be afraid, to take your stand for God's word because he is so faithful and he will bring you through it."

Daniel McArthur said: "This judgment carries so much weight because it guarantees free speech for Christians all over the UK.

"We knew we were doing what God wanted us to do and we believe we've been following his will.

"The hardest thing was when other Christians told you they thought you weren't doing the right thing bringing it through the courts."

Announcing the court's decision, its president Lady Hale said: "This conclusion is not in any way to diminish the need to protect gay people and people who support gay marriage from discrimination.

"It is deeply humiliating, and an affront to human dignity, to deny someone a service because of that person's race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief.

"But that is not what happened in this case."

The legal action was originally brought against the bakery in Belfast by gay rights activist Gareth Lee, who won his case initially in the county court and then at the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal.

Mr Lee, a member of the LGBT advocacy group QueerSpace, ordered a cake in 2014 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 owing to the message requested.

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

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where same-sex marriage is outlawed.

Sunday Independent

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