Britain’s Supreme Court rules bakery didn’t discriminate in ‘gay cake’ case

David Blevins interviews the bakers at the heart of the Northern Ireland gay cake controversy

Belfast County Court had ruled against Ashers, run by a Christian family, the McArthurs, for declining an order to make a $50 cake with the campaign slogan "Support Gay Marriage" for a gay rights event because it conflicted with their deeply held religious beliefs.

In a judgement delivered in London, the Supreme Court ruled that the refusal of Ashers bakery in Belfast to make the so-called "gay cake" was not discriminatory.

"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", Lady Hale said.

The Guardian reports: 'In a unanimous decision, the UK's highest court found in favour of an appeal by Ashers, which had refused to produce the cake in 2014 for Gareth Lee, who supports the campaign to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. The owners did not support gay marriage for religious reasons and therefore declined to make the cake.

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

The court ruled Wednesday that Ashers acted lawfully and didn't discriminate against anyone. "If and to the extent that there was discrimination on grounds of political opinion, no justification has been shown for the compelled speech which would be entailed for imposing civil liability for refusing to fulfil the order", the court added. "That made me feel like a second-class citizen", he told reporters after listening to the verdict.

"I'm concerned not just for the implications for myself and other gay people, but for every single one of us". So there was no discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

"However, most damaging of all has been the attempt by politicians to use this case to justify amending the law to allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people with the so-called 'conscience clause"'.

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

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

The long-running case over what has been dubbed "the most expensive cake in United Kingdom history", was supported by Northern Ireland's Equality Commission, which argued that refusing to bake the cake was an unlawful act of discrimination against the customer, a gay man who supports a campaign for Northern Ireland to end its ban on same-sex marriage. "We don't have the same rights in Northern Ireland as gay people as we do in the rest of the United Kingdom", he said.

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.

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