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No winners in Ashers cake case

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 01/02/2016

Ashers Bakery owner Daniel McArthur
Ashers Bakery owner Daniel McArthur

The so-called Ashers cake controversy will re-appear when the case returns to court this week, with the attendant publicity.

The owners of Ashers Bakery are seeking to overturn a court judgment last year in which they were found guilty of discrimination when they declined to provide a cake with a same-sex slogan for a customer. They were also given a fine of £500.

In today's Belfast Telegraph we carry an interview with Daniel McArthur and his wife Amy, who are at the centre of this case.

No one who reads their comments could doubt that they are deeply Christian and totally sincere in their religious convictions.

However, their views appear to clash with the law, and this is what lies at the heart of this controversy. As Daniel says: "Every day we are compelled to follow Christ and do what the Bible teaches."

We must await the court's ruling this week to determine the next steps, but this may not be the end of the matter. The McArthurs are determined, if necessary, to take this all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.

If this course is followed, it will involve continued media scrutiny and mounting legal costs, as the courts attempt to find a solution to a complex conflict of competing human rights.

All along this newspaper has been opposed to any form of discrimination, but many people will be wondering how this situation has ever got so far.

They might also wonder if the gay rights cause has been furthered at all by this case. Surely some common sense, rather than a rigid adherence to rules, would have prevented the situation from escalating to such a degree.

People might also ask if there are not more weighty cases for the courts to consider at this time, rather than a long drawn-out row over the sale of a cake?

Mr McArthur has revealed that his business premises have been targeted, and how his family has had to deal with personal abuse because of the stance they have taken.

It is likely that tensions may be raised on both sides again as this case proceeds through the court, but hopefully there will be no repeat of unsavoury and regrettable behaviour of the past.

This is a sad and complex issue, which brings considerable stress. However, one thing is clear - whichever side succeeds in court, there will be no winners in this case.

Belfast Telegraph

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