Belfast Telegraph

Ashers limits its custom-made cakes to birthdays and babies in wake of discrimination ruling

By Adrian Rutherford

A Christian-run bakery found guilty of discriminating against a gay customer is reducing the range of cakes that customers can order.

Ashers Baking Company is limiting the scope of its build-a-cake department in the wake of this week's court ruling.

Only certain birthday and baby-related cakes will be available to order.

Other types will be suspended while the firm's owners review this aspect of their business and take further advice from lawyers.

The decision follows a court judgment that the firm discriminated by refusing to make a cake with a slogan supporting same-sex marriage.

Ashers' general manager Daniel McArthur said: "Due to the recent legal developments we have decided to limit our celebration cake range to certain birthday and baby-related celebration cakes while we consider our policy and talk with our lawyers.

"The department represents a small part of the business and no jobs will be impacted.

"We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to our loyal customers.

"Part of our website is currently under reconstruction to reflect the position."

On Tuesday a court ruled that Ashers, owned by the McArthur family, acted unlawfully by declining the request from gay rights activist Gareth Lee.

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.

He paid in full when placing the order but, two days later, the company phoned to say it could not be processed.

Ashers, owned by Colin and Karen McArthur, refused the order because its message was contrary to the family's Christian beliefs.

Legal action was brought on behalf of Mr Lee by the Equality Commission, a publicly-funded quango.

Giving evidence during the case, Mr Lee claimed he was left feeling like a lesser person.

Delivering her ruling on Tuesday, District Judge Isobel Brownlie said religious beliefs could not dictate the law.

Meanwhile, Dragons' Den star Hilary Devey has weighed in on the court ruling, saying Ashers should "turn the key now and go home".

Speaking on BBC's Question Time in Derby, Ms Devey said the issue was a "non-story", and asked: "does it matter?" what the sexuality of a customer is.

"It shouldn't have had print. It shouldn't have even been a story, it's a non-story," she said.

"I think as a business they should turn the key now and go home because frankly a customer is a customer - does it matter?

"For goodness sake this is 2015, whose business is it whether you are heterosexual, lesbian, homosexual - who the hell's business is it?"

After the ruling, Daniel McArthur insisted the bakery would not close.

"We will not be closing down. We have not done anything wrong," he said on Tuesday.

Belfast Telegraph


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