Belfast Bakery Guilty Of Discrimination For Refusing Marriage Equality Cake Order: VIDEO

Ashers Baking Company in Northern Ireland has been found guilty of discrimination after refusing an order for a cake with the slogan “support gay marriage”

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Ashers Baking Company in Northern Ireland has been found guilty of discrimination after refusing an order for a cake with the slogan “support gay marriage”, reports RTE.

The Northern Ireland Equality Commission brought the case against Ashers on behalf of Queer Space activist Gareth Lee who had requested a cake featuring Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie for a private function marking International Day Against Homophobia.

CakeIn a ruling at Belfast County Court yesterday, district judge Isobel Brownlie said:

"The defendants have unlawfully discriminated against the plaintiff on grounds of sexual discrimination. This is direct discrimination for which there can be no justification."

Ashers was ordered to pay agreed damages of £500 ($780) plus court costs. General manager Daniel McArthur said:

"We've said from the start that our issue was with the message on the cake, not the customer and we didn't know what the sexual orientation of Mr Lee was, and it wasn't relevant either.

“We've always been happy to serve any customers that come into our shops. The ruling suggests that all business owners will have to be willing to promote any cause or campaign no matter how much they disagree with it. Or as the Equality Commission has suggested, they should perhaps just close down, and that can't be right.

"But we won't be closing down, we certainly don't think we've done anything wrong and we will be taking legal advice to consider our options for appeal.”

However, Brownlie said that the McArthur family “must have known or had the perception that the plaintiff was gay…supported gay marriage or associated with others who supported gay marriage."

A statement issued on behalf of 100 evangelical church leaders said:

"It will sadden all those who value freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. This decision represents a serious blow for free speech and plunges the law into confusion. It opens up a Pandora's box of legal cases".

Last month, Northern Ireland health minister and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Assembly member Jim Wells resigned after saying that children of gay parents are "more likely" to be abused or neglected

Watch a report, AFTER THE JUMP

 

Comments

  1. says

    Actually it is the Religious Fanatics who are destroying Religious Freedom. It is best to see an end to religion, all churches shut down, all religious tax exemptions rescinded and all catholic clergy deported back to the Vatican. The sooner the better.

  2. Chuck Mielke says

    So, let me see: A baker refuses to put a particular message on a cake because the message on the cake somehow represents the bakery? So that works for the baker’s freedom of speech. But why should the baker have a right to stifle a customer’s freedom of speech? As I see it, the baker might worry that his “reputation” could be damaged by the cake, but only if people know who baked it — which is not likely to be a major topic of discussion at whatever venue the cake is displayed and eaten. In his own advertising, there would be no need to include that cake in promotional photos. Is this baker worried about attracting “the wrong kind of customer,” say the kind of customer that would repel other customers? That hardly seems rational in the case of commissioned work, since no one but the baker and the specific customer would have to see the cake and the customer would be dealt with personally and, presumably, away from the shop.

    I am prejudiced in favor of seeing simple anti-gay bias in cases like this, but the worries about freedom of speech in this case seem ill-considered by the baker.

  3. jamal49 says

    What is disturbing and not being reported very much is the rise of the evangelical movement in Great Britain, particularly in England and Northern Ireland. They have become to date a bothersome noise but actually have been making gains politically in local elections and a few seats in Parliament. Worse, they have no qualms making alliances with other conservative religious in Britain, particularly with Muslims, something American evangelicals, as yet, have not (thankfully) attempted to do here.

  4. SebastianQ says

    Am I the only one who thinks this is stupid? It doesn’t feel good to be forced to write something on a cake that you don’t agree with. If I had a bakery and someone asked for a cake that said “Support Muslim Jihad” I would have a hard time writing that. But then I could be sued for discrimination? It’s all crazy.

  5. Hey Darlin' says

    Isn’t it “Religious Freedom” that is attempting to destroy equality.

    We are all very aware the new “Religious Freedom” jargon is a new attempt to destroy the equality of select citizens. It doesn’t just stop at LGBT rights.

  6. Howard B says

    I’m with SebastianQ on this. It is a dangerous path we are on if anyone can be compelled by the government to say or write something that is contrary to their core belief, and then be punished for not complying. It is a slippery slope that will not turn out well for us.

  7. says

    Hmm… I think I’m siding with SebastianQ on this, too. The cake could easily have been requested by (for example) a father with a gay son, which means you’re not discriminating against the sexual orientation of the individual, merely the message. Heck, the easy solution is to have someone bake the cake and add your own message, right?

  8. Howard B says

    I think people are confusing withholding a product or service (clear discrimination) with the government compelling someone to act against their core beliefs (protected speech). The government should protect us against discrimination, but not at the expense of forcing someone to go against their core belief. If the government is allowed to punish someone who is exercising their clearly held beliefs, then I assure you that we gays are going to get the short end of that stick. Any such ruling that will curtail political/religious speech for any reason will be used against gay people in a heart beat.

  9. Tre says

    Supporting Marriage Equality is NOT the same as supporting Muslim Jihad. Refusing to write “Support Marriage Equality” is the same as refusing to write “Support Interracial Marriage” for a mixed race couple. It’s discriminatory.

    Besides, no TRUE Christian would ever have an issue with gay people having equal rights. These people are using a twisted form of some bizarre religion to try and legitimize their bigotry – and the court saw right through it.

  10. Randy says

    “The ruling suggests that all business owners will have to be willing to promote any cause or campaign no matter how much they disagree with it.”

    That’s exactly right. If your services includes publishing messages on things, then you cannot choose what message you will publish, particularly if that choice is based on discrimination on a protected characteristic.

  11. Pandion says

    Wow, this is wrong. In the US this case would fall squarely within the baker’s fist amendment rights.

    It’s completely different from the American bakers refusing to sell cakes for gay weddings (which is indeed discrimination).

    Compelling one to write what one doesn’t want to is fascistic. And whoever sued him is not an LGBT activist: he’s a bully.

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