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How events have unfolded in the same-sex cake row

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Published 10/05/2016

Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street and the message that sparked gay cake row
Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street and the message that sparked gay cake row

Two years ago, the order sparking the so-called 'gay cake' case was placed at Ashers Baking Company in Belfast. Here is a timeline of how events unfolded.

May 9, 2014 Gareth Lee places an order at Ashers Baking Company on Belfast's Royal Avenue for a cake to be decorated with the slogan Support Gay Marriage alongside the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie. The order is accepted by Karen McArthur and payment of £36.50 is made in full.

May 11, 2014 Mr Lee is informed that the order cannot be completed. Mr Lee is offered a full refund.

June 26, 2014 Equality Commission writes to Ashers requesting that modest compensation be paid.

October 24, 2014 Equality Commission puts the bakery officially "on notice" of impending court action.

March 26, 2015 The three-day civil suit opens at Belfast County Court. Mr Lee tells the court he was left feeling like a lesser person when his order was declined.

March 27, 2015 In evidence, Ms McArthur, an Ashers director, said she had taken the order to avoid a confrontation in the shop but as a born-again Christian "knew in her heart" it could not be completed. Her son, Daniel McArthur, the firm's general manager, tells the court his family could not compromise their deeply held religious beliefs.

May 19, 2015 District Judge Isobel Brownlie rules in favour of the Equality Commission. The judge finds Ashers acted unlawfully and directly discriminated against Mr Lee on grounds of his sexual orientation and political beliefs. She said Mr Lee was treated "less favourably", contrary to the law. The company is ordered to pay agreed costs of £500.

June 10, 2015 Ashers say they will appeal against the judgment.

November 2, 2015 For the first time the majority of MLAs vote in favour of changing the law on same-sex marriage. However, the proposal falls when the DUP deploys a 'petition of concern' blocking mechanism.

December 3, 2015 Two same-sex couples launch a landmark legal action in Belfast's High Court to judicially review the Assembly's refusal to legislate on same-sex marriage.

February 3, 2016 An appeal hearing is dramatically halted after a last minute intervention from Attorney General John Larkin.

March 3, 2016 Mr Larkin is given the green light to make representations at the full appeal hearing.

May 9, 2016 An appeal in the case of Gareth Lee v Ashers Baking Company is to be heard before Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan and two other top judges in Belfast's Royal Courts of Justice.

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