Belfast Telegraph

Ashers bakers lodge appeal to 'gay cake' judgment

By Sara Neill

The owners of Ashers Baking Company have lodged an appeal against a judgment that found they were guilty of discriminating against a gay man.

The Christian business had refused to decorate a cake with a slogan supporting same-sex marriage.

Despite the judgment, the McArthurs still believe they have done nothing wrong and stand by their decision to act according to what "the Bible teaches regarding marriage".

An application for the appeal was lodged on Monday.

The McArthur family have now asked a judge to consider if the law on which the ruling was made is compatible with European Union law.

It is understood the facts of the case will not be reheard, as the evidence was agreed during the original case at Belfast County Court. The case will now go straight to the Court of Appeal where the ruling will be examined by three judges.

The argument began in May 2014 when gay rights activist Gareth Lee ordered a cake featuring Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie and the slogan 'Support Gay Marriage'.

But Ashers refused to fulfil the order, stating the message was against their religious beliefs. They claimed that their problem was with the cake, not the customer.

Backing Mr Lee, the Equality Commission launched a civil action claiming that the actions of Ashers had violated equality laws.

During three days of evidence heard in March, Mr Lee claimed he was left feeling like a lesser person when his order, which had been paid in full, was turned down two days later.

Belfast County Court fined the company £500 damages for injury to Mr Lee's feelings after Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled the customer had been treated less favourably and the bakery had breached political and sexual orientation discrimination regulations.

The story made headlines around the world, plunging Ashers and the so-called 'gay cake row' into the public eye.

The issue also caused ripples at Stormont when DUP MLA Paul Givan tried to introduce a 'conscience clause' into legislation that would allow businesses to refuse to provide some services if they clash with their strongly held religious convictions.

However, that was blocked by a petition of concern by other parties.

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