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UK Supreme Court: Cake company ‘did not discriminate’ against gay man

UK Supreme Court: Cake company ‘did not discriminate’ against gay man

All a customer wanted was a Bert and Ernie cake

A cake company did not discriminate against a gay man, the UK Supreme Court has said in a shock ruling.

Ashers Baking Company, in Northern Ireland, filed a suit with the Supreme Court after losing several times.

The five justices on the Supreme Court were unanimous in their judgement.

McArthur added, before the Supreme Court announced the ruling: ‘We didn’t say no because of the customer; we’d served him before, we’d serve him again.

It was because of the message. But some people want the law to make us support something with which we disagree.’

Why did the cake company reject an order from a gay man? 

In May 2014, the shop declined an order from gay rights activist Gareth Lee.

He wanted a cake with the slogan, ‘Support Gay Marriage’, the logo ‘Queerspace’. The cake he wanted also would include Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street.

Lee had paid the £36.50 (€41) for the cake at the Belfast city centre branch. The Christian bakers phoned Lee two days later.

The company told him they could not fulfil his order.

Karen McArthur said, as a born against Christian, she knew she could not make the cake but had taken the order to avoid a confrontation in the shop.

Daniel McArthur, the general manager of the bakery, refused the cake because it was ‘at odds with our beliefs’.

During the court case, McArthur said he believed ‘God was on our side’.

LGBTI rights group ‘disappointed’ 

John O’Doherty, director of The Rainbow Project, said he was disappointed by the ruling.

‘Ashers agreed to make the cake. They entered into a contractual agreement to make this cake and then changed their mind. While sympathetic as some may be to the position in which the company finds itself; this does not change the facts of the case. We believe this is direct discrimination for which there can be no justification. We will however take time to study this judgment by the Supreme Court to understand fully its implications for the rights of LGBT people to access goods, facilities and services without discrimination.

O’Doherty added: ‘However, most damaging of all has been the attempt by politicians to use this case to justify amending the law to allow businesses to discriminate against LGB&T people with the so-called ‘conscience clause.’

‘We once again extend the hand of friendship to all people of faith, churches and families. We would encourage faith leaders to engage with our community to ensure better relations and to develop trust and respect between our overlapping communities for the betterment of our society.’

Human rights campaigner calls it a ‘victory for freedom of expression’

Peter Tatchell, however, called it a ‘victory for freedom of expression’.

The human rights campaigner said: ‘As well as meaning that Ashers cannot be legally forced to aid the promotion of same-sex marriage, it also means that gay bakers cannot be compelled by law to decorate cakes with anti-gay marriage slogans.

‘Businesses can now lawfully refuse a customer’s request to emblazon a political message if they have a conscientious objection to it. This includes the right to refuse messages that are sexist, xenophobic or anti-gay, which is a good thing.

‘Although I profoundly disagree with Ashers opposition to marriage equality, in a free society neither they nor anyone else should be forced to facilitate a political idea that they oppose.’
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that does not allow same-sex marriage.

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