Ashers Baking Company, based in Newtownabbey in County Antrim, refused to bake a novelty cake featuring the Sesame Street characters, Bert & Ernie, alongside the words “Support Gay Marriage”. The cake would have also featured the logo of QueerSpace, a local gay rights group.
Since the baking company refused to make the novelty cake, stating that it went against the religious beliefs of the company’s directors, the bakers have been called to rethink their actions. The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland wrote to Ashers, stating that the Newtownabbey company was in breach of the law, and that if the “illegal discrimination” is not rectified within seven days, the Commission will take the bakers to court.
It remains to be seen whether or not the owners of the baking company will react to the Equality Commission’s letter, although the company already has the support of the Christian Institute in the UK, which called the reaction to the bakers’ decision as “nonsense”.
Northern Ireland is still the only region of the UK that does not have plans to introduce marriage equality, despite it being the first region of the UK to officiate a civil partnership in December 2005.