'Gay cake' Supreme Court ruling reaction

11 Октября, 2018, 04:30 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • David Blevins interviews the bakers at the heart of the Northern Ireland gay cake controversy

The manager of a Belfast bakery said he was "delighted and relieved" after the Supreme Court ruled that his company was not discriminating against a customer when it refused to make a cake iced with the slogan "support gay marriage".

The Supreme Court will rule on whether Ashers "directly discriminated" against Mr Lee on grounds of sexual orientation contrary to the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2006, and religious and political belief, contrary to the Fair Employment and treatment (NI) Order 1998, by refusing to make a cake decorated with the requested message.

Daniel and Amy McArthur, the young married couple who run Ashers, argued that they had not turned down the order because of the customer but because of the message itself.

It was in May 2014 that Ashers declined an order placed at its Belfast store by a gay rights activist who wanted images of Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie campaigning for gay marriage.

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

In response to the Supreme Court ruling, a Stonewall spokesperson said: "The Supreme Court's decision that Ashers bakery were not discriminatory in the so-called "gay cake" row is very concerning for anyone who cares about equality".

Mounting an unsuccessful challenge at the Court of Appeal in Belfast in 2016, Ashers contended that it never had an issue with Mr Lee's sexuality, rather the message he was seeking to put on the cake.

Daniel McArthur, a co-owner of Ashers, told reporters outside the courthouse that the ruling is a win for freedom of conscience.

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"They have strongly underlined the law on compelled speech, quoting a previous case which said "Nobody should be forced to have or express a political opinion in which he does not believe", he said. Daniel began, "Well, I want to start by thanking God". A business providing a public service has a legal duty to do so without discrimination based on race, gender, faith and sexuality.

He continued: "Although I profoundly disagree with Asher's opposition to marriage equality, in a free society neither they nor anyone else should be forced to facilitate a political idea that they oppose".

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

"Accordingly, this court holds that there was no discrimination on the ground of the sexual orientation of Mr Lee", Lady Hale ruled.

The case pitted Northern Ireland's strong Protestant and Catholic communities against LGBT groups testing the breadth of the British province's anti-discrimination laws.

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.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom or Ireland where same-sex marriage is outlawed, with Prime Minister Theresa May's DUP allies staunch opponents of changing the law. "We do not have the same rights in Northern Ireland as gay people as we do in the rest of the United Kingdom", he said.

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