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Bakers to appeal in gay cake row

Published 28/05/2015

Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Baking Company
Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Baking Company

The Christian owners of a bakery found to have discriminated against a gay man are to appeal.

A judge at Belfast County Court ruled that Ashers Baking Company acted unlawfully by declining an order from gay rights activist Gareth Lee last year.

Mr Lee, a member of the LGBT advocacy group Queer Space, wanted a cake featuring Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie with the slogan Support Gay Marriage.

Bakery owners the McArthur family said: "After much careful and prayerful consideration given to legal advice, we have decided to appeal the judgment handed down last Tuesday.

"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.

"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."

The cake was ordered for a private function in Bangor, Co Down, to mark International Anti Homophobia Day last May.

Mr Lee, who paid in full when placing the order at Ashers' Belfast branch, said he was left feeling like a lesser person when he was told his request could not be fulfilled.

The publicly-funded Northern Ireland Equality Commission, which has a statutory duty to monitor anti-discrimination laws, brought the legal action on his behalf.

Ashers employs almost 80 people across six branches and delivers throughout the UK and Ireland.

The family said they opposed same-sex marriage on religious grounds and could not produce the cake with a message that was contrary to their deeply-held Christian beliefs.

"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."

District Judge Isobel Brownlie found the bakers discriminated against Mr Lee on grounds of his sexual orientation and his political beliefs.

Ashers was ordered to pay agreed damages of £500.

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