NI: ‘Gay cake’ dispute referred to top European Court

Image: abc.net.au

The case involving a Northern Irish bakery, which refused to make a cake with a pro-gay message for a customer, has been referred to the European Court of Human Rights.

Ashers Baking Co. in Belfast was found guilty of discrimination in 2015, for refusing to make a cake for Gareth Lee, iced with the words ‘Support Gay Marriage’, because of the owners’ Christian beliefs.

Britain’s Supreme Court overturned the ruling in 2018, in a move hailed by Northern Ireland’s main conservative party.

The bakery has said its objection was to the message on the cake, not the customer.

Lee’s legal bid in Europe’s highest court will argue that the Supreme Court “failed to give appropriate weight” to him under the European Convention of Human Rights.

“The Supreme Court [judgment]… it creates the risk that some people may fear going into certain shops,” said Ciaran Moynagh, the lawyer representing Gareth Lee.

This is “a dangerous position for minority groups and vulnerable people…” Moynagh told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Ashers Baking declined to comment.

Opponents of Lee’s case have said the bakery’s refusal to make the case should not be called discrimination.

“Ashers did not refuse to serve a gay customer, which would have been wrong and rightly illegal. What they did was decline to put a ‘support gay marriage’ message on a cake,” veteran British LGBT rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

“Equally, I don’t believe a gay baker should be compelled to decorate a cake opposing gay marriage.”

-Megan Davies – Thomson Reuters Foundation

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