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Shoppers show their solidarity for beleaguered Ashers bakery

By Adrian Rutherford

More than 1,500 people have pledged to buy products from Ashers today in a show of solidarity with the bakery.

An online campaign is encouraging support for the company after it lost a landmark court battle earlier this week.

A judge ruled the firm had discriminated against a gay man by refusing to bake a cake supporting gay marriage.

The controversial judgment has triggered a wave of anger from Christians and freedom of conscience campaigners.

Almost 3,000 people have signed up to a Facebook page supporting Ashers. And today people are being urged to show their support by purchasing its goods.

An organiser of the 'Support Ashers Bakery' call said it was a chance for people to express their solidarity.

Samuel Morrison said: "It is on foot of the judgment earlier in the week. As a Christian I feel they were very badly treated and because of that I've set up the event, and hopefully it encourages people to buy their products, particularly on Saturday."

Earlier this week a judge ruled that religious beliefs could not dictate the law.

Mr Morrison said the judgment had only increased support for Ashers' stance.

"I think it has unified Christians in Northern Ireland in a way that I haven't seen in recent years," he said.

"That is encouraging, but it is still deeply concerning that you would have a ruling like this.

"It has very profound ramifications for freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of religion."

An online campaign urging Tesco not to sell the bakery's products started in the wake of Tuesday's judgment.

However, a rival petition is urging Tesco to stick with the company.

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