Star Trek star Patrick Stewart backs Ashers over 'gay cake'
Sir Patrick Stewart has weighed into the Ashers cake debate to say he supports the idea of the Christian family refusing to make a message they find offensive.
The firm lost its court case after refusing to make a cake with the words "support gay marriage" above a picture of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street.
While many celebrated the ruling as a victory for equal rights, Sir Patrick (74) said he backed the business.
Talking on Newsnight, the Star Trek and X-Men actor said: "Finally, I found myself on the side of the bakers."
He argued that nobody should be forced to write something they disagreed with and added: "It was not because it was a gay couple that they objected, it was not because they were celebrating some sort of marriage or an agreement between them.
"It was the actual words on the cake they objected to, because they found the words offensive. I would support their rights to say, 'No, this is personally offensive to my beliefs, I will not do it'."
The broadcaster Coleen Nolan previously expressed a similar sentiment, although it was perhaps not as carefully worded as the celebrated actor's statement.
The Loose Women panellist played devil's advocate for the bakery, comparing its reaction to being asked to support gay marriage to a Westerner being asked to make a cake supporting Isis.
The McArthur family, who own the bakery, were found guilty of unlawful discrimination after the court hearing and fined £500.
The bakery's general manager Daniel McArthur said at the time of the case: "We don't want to be forced to promote a cause which is against our biblical beliefs. And we've had a lot of support from people who disagree with our stance on same-sex marriage.
"They think that we should have the freedom to decline an order that conflicts with our conscience."
After the court reached its decision, the family released a statement setting out their intention to appeal against the ruling.
They said: "After much careful and prayerful consideration given to legal advice, we have decided to appeal against the judgment handed down.
"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."