Ashers bakery owners to appeal judgment in gay cake case after 'careful, prayerful consideration'
The Christian family at the centre of the 'gay cake' legal battle have vowed to fight on.
An appeal has been launched by the owners of Ashers bakery against a judgment that found them guilty of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation after they refused to provide a cake with a message supporting a gay marriage to a customer.
The McArthur family were ordered to pay gay man Gareth Lee £500 in compensation.
However, the family yesterday insisted that they had done nothing wrong by refusing to fulfil an order from Mr Lee for a cake carrying the pro-gay marriage slogan.
They said they will appeal the judgment so that they and other Christians can live out their faith in all parts of their lives.
"After much careful and prayerful consideration given to legal advice, we have decided to appeal the judgment handed down last Tuesday," the McArthur family said. "We continue to insist that we have done nothing wrong as we have discriminated against no individual but rather acted according to what the Bible teaches regarding marriage."
They added: "As many other people have already noted, Christian beliefs seem to have been trampled over in this judgment and we believe this only has negative effects for our society.
"Our hope and prayer would be that an appeal will allow us and other Christians to live out their faith in Jesus Christ in every part of their lives, including their workplace."
The Equality Commission brought the case against Ashers on behalf of Mr Lee.
The family-run bakery, which delivers across the UK and Ireland, turned down the request for a cake with an image of Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie below the slogan 'Support Gay Marriage'. They said that to bake a cake supporting same-sex marriage would go against their deeply held religious beliefs.
Last week County Court Judge Isobel Brownlie said the defendants had unlawfully discriminated against Mr Lee on grounds of sexual discrimination.
The Christian Institute is supporting the McArthurs in their legal battle and funding the legal costs.
Simon Calvert of The Christian Institute said he believed that most people think the court ruling should be overturned.
"There has been such extraordinary support from people from all walks of life who are appalled by what has happened to the McArthur family," he said.
"There is huge public support for an appeal and it is vitally important that the higher courts consider this issue."
DUP MLA Paul Givan, who is seeking to bring forward a so-called conscience clause which would allow businesses to refuse to provide services they believe compromise their religious beliefs, demanded an apology from the Equality Commission for bringing the case against the McArthurs.
"This is an assault on faith. Are Christians going to be dragged through the courts? I don't believe the people of Northern Ireland want that," he added.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Belfast City Council is to debate a motion calling for the introduction of gay marriage laws next week. The motion tabled by Alliance's Emmet McDonough-Brown urges the Finance Minister to introduce legislation to extend civil marriage provisions to same-sex couples.
He said: "After the vote in the South (to legalise same-sex marriage) I'm proud to bring an equal marriage motion to Belfast City Council."