Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Gay marriage cake row: 'Bert and Ernie' cake was for ex-mayor's anti-homophobia event

Asher’s Baking Company faces court for refusing order for gay marriage cake

Councillor Andrew Muir cutting the cake that was produced by another bakery after Asher’s Baking Company refused
Councillor Andrew Muir cutting the cake that was produced by another bakery after Asher’s Baking Company refused

A 'Bert and Ernie' cake in support of gay marriage which a Christian bakery refused to make was for an ex-mayor's anti-homophobia event.

Alliance councillor Andrew Muir has blasted Asher's Baking Company's decision to refuse to make the cake in support of gay marriage.

Northern Ireland's first gay mayor said "businesses should not be able to pick and choose who they serve".

Asher's Baking Company - which is based in Newtownabbey - is now facing legal action over its decision.

It has now been told it discriminated against a gay rights activist, Gareth Lee, by declining to include a slogan that said 'support gay marriage'.

On Tuesday morning, Andrew Muir, the former Mayor of North Down, revealed the cake was intended for an event to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

He said after Asher's Baking Company refused to produce the cake, another bakery in Bangor stepped in to create it.

The image the customer wanted on the cake
The image the customer wanted on the cake

 "I fully support the action taken against this bakery. Businesses should not be able to pick and choose who they serve," he said.

"There would not be any debate if the cake had depicted an anti-racism or anti-ageism slogan, nor should it require intervention from the Equality Commission for this cake for Anti-Homophobia Day".

"I was pleased that another bakery in Bangor was able to step in and produce this cake for the event I hosted as Mayor of North Down.

"We were able to ensure that this event went ahead despite the actions of Asher's Bakery and enjoyed a great afternoon celebrating the vibrant diversity Northern Ireland enjoys."

Asher’s Baking Company faces court for refusing order for gay marriage cake 

Daniel McArthur (24), general manager at Asher's Baking Company, the Newtownabbey company which has been running since 1992 and employs 62 people, said the firm had been founded by Christians, and the current directors are Christians.

“That means that we run our business according to Christian values and beliefs, according to what the Bible teaches. It means for example that we don’t open on Sundays, that we trade openly and honestly with people,” he said.

Mr McArthur said the company’s name was Biblical - as Asher was one of the 12 tribes of Israel.

“It was a tribe that had gifted bakers,” he said.

LGBT activist Gareth Lee had asked for the cake to include a slogan that said ‘support gay marriage’ along with a picture of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street, and the logo of the Queerspace organisation.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where gay marriage has not been legalised.

Further reading

Andrew Muir: Rocks were thrown at me in the street because I'm gay

Asher’s Baking Company faces court for refusing order for gay marriage cake 

 

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