Christian bakers win 'gay cake' Supreme Court battle

Gay rights activist Gareth Lee sued the owners of Ashers Baking Company for discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion

Toyin Owoseje
Wednesday 10 October 2018 11:24 BST
Christian bakers win 'gay cake' Supreme Court appeal

The owners of a Christian bakery did not discriminate against a customer by refusing to make a cake featuring the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Daniel and Amy McArthur, who run Belfast-based Ashers Baking Company, won their legal battle against gay rights activist Gareth Lee, who had accused the pair of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and political beliefs.

Five justices on the Supreme Court were unanimous in their judgement over the dispute, which began in 2014.

Announcing the verdict, President Lady 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.”

She added that the bakers did not refuse to fulfil his order because of his sexual orientation but because it would have meant supplying “a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed”.

Daniel and Amy McArthur, who run Belfast-based Ashers Baking Company, refused to make Mr Lee's cake (Reuters)

The court added that “nobody should be forced to have or express a political opinion in which he does not believe”.

Mr and Ms McArthur previously said the law risked "extinguishing" their consciences.

Gareth Lee speaks as he leaves the Supreme Court in London (Simon Dawson/Reuters)

Mr Lee initially won the legal action widely known as the ”gay cake case“ in the county court and Mr and Ms McArthur were ordered pay damages of £500 for refusing to make the cake which featured Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie for a private function marking International Day Against Homophobia.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Lee said the ruling made him feel like a second class citizen, adding: ”I think this has consequences for everyone. Anyone can walk into a shop – you shouldn't have to work out if you're going to be served based on their religious beliefs. I am confused.“

”I'm concerned, not just for the implications for myself or other gay people, but for everyone single one of us. Do we have to guess when we go into a shop whether we're going to be served or not?“

Northern Ireland's Equality Commission, which had backed Mr Lee’s case, said it was ”disappointed“ with the Supreme Court's ruling.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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