The UK’s highest court has ruled that Ashers Bakery did not discriminate against a customer because of his sexuality.
Speaking on the ruling President Lady Brenda Hale said, “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 or any of the other protected personal characteristics, but that is not what happened in this case.”
“The bakers did not refuse to fulfil his order because of his sexual orientation. They would have refused to make such a cake for any customer, irrespective of their sexual orientation.”
“The bakers could not refuse to supply their goods to Mr Lee because he was a gay man or supported gay marriage but that is quite different from obliging them to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed.”
Baroness Hale once called for a “conscience clause” for Christians who have anti-gay beliefs during a trial of anti-gay B&B owners, Peter and Hazelmary Bull.
First, they lost, but appeal after appeal, finally success for Ashers Bakery
The Asher’s Bakery row has rolled on since 2014 when the Christian run Ashers Baking Co. in Northern Ireland refused to make a pro-gay marriage cake, which featured a slogan “Support Gay Marriage – Queer Space Born 1998” with a picture of Sesame Street characters Ernie and Bert, because it says it clashed with the ethos of their company, saying,
‘We thought that this order was at odds with our beliefs, certainly was in contradiction with what the Bible teaches.’
Queer Space is an organisation, which seeks to increase the visibility of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) Community in a positive manner to counteract the disregard, and negative images presented to the general public.
Rhian Radia is a leading lawyer who specialises in discrimination cases, and a Director at Vardags. She said today, “A judgment of the Supreme Court today has found that a bakery in Northern Ireland did not discriminate against a gay man by refusing to bake him a cake with a message supporting gay marriage.
“The bakers oppose the introduction of gay marriage on religious grounds. The Supreme Court’s decision found that the refusal to bake the cake was because of the message on the cake rather than the sexual orientation of the customer or his association with Queerspace, a volunteer-led organisation for the LGBT community. Sexual orientation and support of gay marriage were viewed to be two separate things. The judges decided that people of all sexual orientations can and do support gay marriage.
“The judgment is being touted as a victory for free speech by those who believe that the bakers should not have been forced to bake a case with a message they disagreed with.
“This is the latest in a line of employment law cases where types of protection from discrimination clash with each other, in this case religious belief and sexual orientation and political belief. But is baking a cake as part of providing a service to a customer really about free speech where the rights of a business beat those of an individual?”
JULY 2014: Gareth Lee reports that Ashers Bakery refused to bake him a gay which said “Support Gay Marriage”. The Christian Institute provided the bakery with legal support.
MAY 2015: A UK court found in 2015 that Ashers Bakery had been unlawful in refusing to bake a cake for Gareth Lee. The bakery owners were ordered to pay £500 in damages.
JUNE 2015: The bakery announces its outline for appeal
OCTOBER 2016: Ashers loses it appeal at the Court of Appeal, which upheld the original judgement that the bakers had acted unlawfully.
NOVEMBER 2016: Ashers announce it is to appeal again
OCTOBER 2018: Ashers wins its case in the UK Supreme Court
The McArthurs, who own the company, have insisted that the issue was never with Mr Lee’s sexuality, but with the message that he had requested on the cake.