Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

BRITAIN: Christian Bakers Win Supreme Court Appeal Over ‘Gay Cake’

Daniel Mc Arthur spoke after the Supreme Court ruled in his favour Image Daniel Mc Arthur spoke after the Supreme Court ruled in his favour
Deanna Wagner | 11 October, 2018, 04:29

In a high-profile case that lasted four years and cost United Kingdom taxpayers £150,000 ($197,316), the court ruled the Ashers bakery in Belfast had not acted in a discriminatory manner by refusing to make the cake with topping in support of same-sex marriage.

Britain's highest court on Wednesday said a Northern Irish bakery's refusal to make a cake bearing a pro-gay slogan was not discriminatory in a ruling condemned by the customer, a gay rights activist, but hailed by the province's main conservative party.

Belfast-based Ashers, run by evangelical Christians Daniel and Amy McArthur, was found guilty of discrimination in 2015 for refusing to make a cake with the words "Support Gay Marriage" and a picture of characters Bert and Ernie from television show Sesame Street.

"In her summary, Lady Hale, the president of the Supreme Court, said the bakery had refused to bake a cake with a message on which they disagreed, and that this was "quite different" from refusing service to a gay man with a certain political belief", reports CNBC.

"But that is not what happened in this case".

Speaking outside the Supreme Court after the judgment was handed down, Gareth Lee said: "To me, this was never about a campaign or a statement". He supports the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom province, the only part of the United Kingdom where same-sex marriage is not allowed.

The five justices on the supreme court - Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Hodge and Lady Black - found the bakery did not refuse to fulfil Lee's order because of his sexual orientation and therefore there was no discrimination on those grounds.

The comprehensive ruling upholds free speech and prevents the law forcing businesses to express views with which they profoundly disagree.

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The bakery owners Daniel and Amy McArthur said the complainant, Gareth Lee, will "always be welcome in any of our shops".

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has said it is "disappointed" in the judgment given today by the Supreme Court.

"Much as I wish to defend the gay community, I also want to defend freedom of conscience, expression and religion", he wrote. "I'm concerned that this has implications for myself and for every single person". So there was no discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. The BBC reported that the Equality Commission had spent £250,000 (NZ$460,000) of public money on the case and the bakery more than £200,000 (NZ$370,000), paid by charity and lobby group The Christian Institute.

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

In the original court case, District Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled that religious beliefs could not dictate the law and ordered the firm to pay damages of £500.

Daniel McArthur, the general manager of the bakery, said he was relieved by the decision.

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.