Ashers Bakers vindicated by UK Court in ‘gay cake’ row
The Christian owners of a Northern Ireland bakery which refused to make a cake endorsing gay marriage have won the final state of their four-year legal battle.
The UK Supreme Court on 10 October ruled in favour of the Ashers’ bakery which refused to make a cake supporting gay marriage. The five judge panel unanimously ruled European Human Rights law gave the bakers the right “not to express an opinion which one does not hold.”
The ruling brought to an end a four-year-long ordeal for the McArthur family, Christian owners of Ashers bakery in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which began in 2014 when a customer ordered a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”. They refused to fulfil the order and were accused of discriminating against the customer on the basis of his sexual orientation. The Supreme Court overturned a previous ruling by the appeal court.
President of the Supreme Court, Justice Lady Hale, stated that it would have been discriminatory for the bakery to refuse to serve the customer on the basis of his sexuality, “but that is quite different from obliging them to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed.”
In a powerful statement of support for rights of those of any religion to adhere to their beliefs, Lady Hale asserted that the European Convention on Human Rights includes the right “not to express an opinion which one does not hold”.
She added, “This court has held that nobody should be forced to have or express a political opinion in which he does not believe.”
Bakery owner and manager Daniel McArthur said after the decision, “this ruling protects freedom of speech and freedom of conscience for everyone … We did not turn down this order because of the person who made it, but because of the message itself.”