Supreme Court backs Northern Irish bakery in gay cake fight

James Booth
116th Tournament Of Roses Parade
The bakery was asked to produce a cake with a picture of Sesame Street characters Bert (left) and Ernie (right) (Source: Getty)

The UK Supreme Court ruled today that a Northern Irish bakery that refused to decorate a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan acted lawfully.

In 2014 the Ashers bakery refused to fulfil an order from the customer Gareth Lee who had asked for a cake to be decorated with the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie and the slogan “support gay marriage”.

Lee sued the company for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and on grounds of religious belief or political opinion.

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A lower court found in his favour, a decision which the owners of Ashers, Daniel and Amy McArthur, appealed, with the battle eventually reaching the UK’s highest court.

The McArthurs, evangelical Christians who believe the only form of marriage consistent with the Bible is between a man and a women, chose not to decorate the cake on grounds on conscience.

Nicholas Le Riche, an employment partner at Bircham Dyson Bell, said: "The court found that the decision not to bake the cake was not due to Mr Lee himself but because of the message he wanted decorated on the cake – the McArthurs would have refused this decoration regardless of who the customer was.”

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Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “This verdict is a victory for freedom of expression. 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.”

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