Christian bakery wins appeal in Supreme Court 'gay cake' case
Christian bakery wins appeal in Supreme Court 'gay cake' case
Christian Bakery Owners Win Gay Cake Row Supreme Court Appeal
10 October, 2018, 19:26
"As well as meaning that Asher's can not be legally forced to aid the promotion of same-sex marriage, it also means that gay bakers can not be compelled by law to decorate cakes with anti-gay marriage slogans", Mr Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said. The business relationship between Lee and Ashers did not involve people being refused jobs or services due to their religious faith, the judges added.
The Equality Commission, meanwhile, said it was disappointed and expressed concern about the possible implications: "There is a concern that this judgment may raise uncertainty about the application of equality law in the commercial sphere, both about what businesses can do and what customers may expect", it said in a statement.
Ashers had previously refused to decorate cakes with offensive language and pornographic pictures.
"We believe this is direct discrimination for which there can be no justification", director John O'Doherty said.
The Rainbow Project, Northern Ireland's largest support organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, expressed its disappointment at the Supreme Court ruling.
"We didn't say no because of the customer; we'd served him before, we'd serve him again", the BBC quoted Ashers' general manager Daniel McArthur said as he arrived at the court.
The bakery spent £200,000 on legal fees - which will be covered by a charity called The Christian Institute.
Mr Lee was also present for the latest ruling in a case which has attracted enormous attention.
The bakery went on to fight the finding of discrimination at a Supreme Court hearing in Belfast in May.
"The objection was to being required to promote the message on the cake", said Brenda Hale, President of the Supreme Court, adding that the conclusion would not in any way diminish the need to protect gay people and people who support gay marriage.
"We're particularly pleased that the Supreme Court emphatically accepted what we've said all along, we did not turn down this order because of the person who made it but because of the message itself", he told reporters outside the courthouse.
The case was brought by the customer, gay rights activist Gareth Lee, and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.
Controversy first flared when 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.
Lee's order had initially been accepted at a branch of Ashers in Belfast, but two days later the firm said it would not make the cake.
It failed in an appeal to the local courts in 2016 but the Supreme Court, the UK's highest judicial body, overturned that decision on Wednesday, saying the bakers' objection was to the message on the cake, not to any personal characteristics of the messenger, or anyone with whom he was associated.
Mr Scoffield told the justices that the case, a simple transaction, raised an issue of principle since those with deeply-held religious or philosophical convictions could be compelled to act against their beliefs.
Lee's lawyer Robin Allen said the tremendous media attention generated by the case across the United Kingdom has been hard for his client.
"That is a heavy burden to bear for one individual".
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