Ashers Baking Company, the ‘gay cake case’ bakery who refused to bake a cake with Bert & Ernie on it for a gay customer, go before the Court of Appeal in Belfast, for a two-day hearing on Wednesday and Thursday this week, in a bid to overturn a decision made last year, which found they had broken political and sexual orientation discrimination laws.
The court ruled against Ashers, owned by Daniel’s parents, Colin and Karen, for refusing to fulfil an order to make a cake with a slogan supporting same-sex marriage, because it conflicted with their Christian beliefs.
The couple are now appealing the court’s decision, and said through a statement released by The Christian Institute, a UK evangelical Christian pressure group, which is supporting them and funding their legal costs:
“It was clear we did not hate anyone. We didn’t want to discriminate against anyone. We did what we did because of our Christian beliefs.
“It’s done out of love for God, to obey Him.”
Criticising the decision by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland to use public funds to take the family to court, Daniel added:
“The way the Equality Commission handled it was very one-sided. They wanted to pursue it with everything they had. They wanted to take us to court, maybe teach us a lesson or send out a signal. The signal they were trying to send out was ‘if you’re a Christian don’t bring it into work’.”
The bakery was brought to court by the NI Equality Commission last year, when gay man Gareth Lee was refused a request that a cake with Bert & Ernie of Sesame Street fame and accompanied by a slogan saying “Support Gay Marriage”, be baked for him.
The Northern Ireland Equality Commission subsequently backed Mr Lee in taking a discrimination case against the bakery at a cost of £39,000. The court found in Mr Lee’s favour, and ordered the bakery to pay £500, saying it was a business, and therefore subject to anti-discrimination legislation.
You can read EILE’s coverage of the case HERE