BAKERS at the centre of the so-called ‘gay cake’ case have spoken of their ‘delight and relief’ after winning their appeal in the UK’s highest court.
The McArthur family, who are Christians, did not discriminate against a customer by refusing to make a cake with the slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’, the Supreme Court in London ruled.
Five justices unanimously allowed the challenge by the family, who run Ashers bakery in Belfast.
The action was brought by activist Gareth Lee, who won his case at county court and then at the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal, but the McArthurs challenged those rulings at a Supreme Court hearing in Belfast in May.
Speaking after yesterday’s ruling, the bakery’s general manager Daniel McArthur said: ‘The Supreme Court emphatically accepted what we’ve said all along — we did not turn down this order because of the person who made it, but because of the message itself.
‘I know a lot of people will be glad to hear this ruling today, because it protects freedom of speech and freedom of conscience for everyone.’
Mr Lee, of LGBT advocacy group QueerSpace, ordered the £36.50 cake featuring Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie for a private function in 2014 marking International Day Against Homophobia.
His order was accepted and he paid in full but two days later the company called to say it could not proceed due to the message he requested. Mr Lee, who was supported by Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission, said yesterday: ‘This was never about a campaign. I paid, my money was taken, and then a few days later it was refused. That made me feel like a second-class citizen.
‘I’m concerned not just for the implications for myself and other gay people, but for every single one of us.’
In a statement announcing the court’s decision, its president, Lady Hale, said the McArthurs hold the religious belief that ‘the only form of marriage consistent with the Bible and acceptable to God is between a man and a woman’.
She said: ‘As to Mr Lee’s claim based on sexual discrimination, the bakers did not refuse to fulfil his order because of his sexual orientation. Their objection was to the message on the cake.’