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'Gay cake' case: Supreme Court rules Ashers did not discriminate against customer

11 October 2018

A bakery run by a Christian family in Northern Ireland on Wednesday (Oct 10) won a landmark case in Britain's highest court over its refusal to make a cake decorated with the words "Support Gay Marriage".

President of the Supreme Court Lady Hale said of the decision arrived at by the five justices that the McArthurs "would have refused to make such a cake for any customer, irrespective of their sexual orientation".

In May 2014, Lee requested a cake featuring the Sesame Street characters Ernie and Bert and the motto "Support Gay Marriage".

"But that is not what happened in this case". The business relationship between Lee and Ashers did not involve people being refused jobs or services due to their religious faith, the judges added.

"We're particularly pleased", he said, "[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".

Credit Wikimedia Commons
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Daniel McArthur said today that the ruling today would make many people happy because it protects freedom of speech and freedom of conscience for everyone.

Ashers Baking Company in Belfast would have refused to decorate a cake with the slogan "Support Gay Marriage", whoever had ordered it.

Similar to the Masterpiece Cakeshop case in which baker Jack Philips was persecuted by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Ashers Baking Company had been warned by the Northern Irish Equality Commission they were guilty of discrimination against the same-sex couple, a decision that a Belfast court upheld.

"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".

Lady Hale continued: "This court has held that 'nobody should be forced to have or express a political opinion in which he does not believe".

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She went on: "As to Mr Lee's claim based on sexual discrimination, the bakers did not refuse to fulfil his order because of his sexual orientation".

It is deeply humiliating, said the president of the UK Supreme Court, to deny someone a service due to their sexual orientation.

"I'm concerned not just for the implications for myself and other gay people, but for every single one of us".

"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 LGBT people with the so-called 'conscience clause"'.

Northern Ireland MP Ian Paisley Jnr praised the decision, but condemned the "Legal bill [of] £360000 for a £30 cake" and called for the Secretary of State for NI to order a review of funding for the province's Equality Commission.

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In Northern Ireland, it can be illegal to discriminate against people due to their political opinions.

He said: "We're delighted and relieved at today's ruling".

"It pains me to say this, as a long-time supporter of the struggle for LGBT equality in Northern Ireland, where same-sex marriage and gay blood donors remain banned".

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'Gay cake' case: Supreme Court rules Ashers did not discriminate against customer