Bakery found guilty after refusing gay cake order

2015-05-19 13:40
Pedestrians and customers walk by a branch of Ashers Baking Company, the bakery that refused to make a cake depicting a pro-gay marriage slogan ordered by gay rights activist Gareth Lee, in Belfast. (Paul Faith, AFP)

Pedestrians and customers walk by a branch of Ashers Baking Company, the bakery that refused to make a cake depicting a pro-gay marriage slogan ordered by gay rights activist Gareth Lee, in Belfast. (Paul Faith, AFP)

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Belfast - Northern Ireland bakery owned by devout Christians who refused to bake a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan was found guilty of discrimination in Belfast on Tuesday.

The case has become heavily politicised in Northern Ireland with members of the province's largest political party, the Democratic Unionist Party, proposing the introduction of a Conscience Clause Bill to allow the withholding of services on grounds of religious belief.

Gay rights activist Gareth Lee took Ashers Baking Company in Belfast to court in a civil action after it cancelled his order for a cake with the slogan "Support Gay Marriage" on it. The case was funded by the British province's Equality Commission.

'Unworthy, lesser person'

The firm initially accepted the order but later contacted Lee to cancel it and refund his money. Lee told a court hearing over three days in March that the bakery's refusal made him feel "unworthy" and "a lesser person".

Speaking outside the court just before the judgement on Tuesday, bakery owner Daniel McArthur said: "We happily serve everyone but we cannot promote a cause that goes against what the Bible says about marriage."

In her judgement, District Judge Isobel Brownlie said the McArthurs "hold genuine, deeply held religious beliefs" but that regulations "protect people from having their sexual orientation used for having their business turned down."

Read more on:    northern ireland  |  gay rights

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