Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Ashers refuses to make gay engagement cake

Gay cake made by
Gay cake made by

By Ali Gordon

Northern Ireland bakery Ashers has been slammed after it refused to make an engagement cake with a same-sex marriage slogan for a man and his partner.

Joe Palmer, who is to wed long-term love Andy Wong this summer, says he’s hurt by the refusal to bake the cake ordered just weeks after a landmark Court of Appeal ruling against the firm run by Christian family the McArthurs. 

In October judges upheld a finding that Ashers had discriminated against customer Gareth Lee due to his sexuality when it refused his order for a cake with a pro-gay marriage motto.

Joe’s friend Grainne McCann ordered and paid for the cake online, only to have the order rejected the next day.

London-based Grainne, who is from Northern Ireland, told Sunday Life: “The wording we requested was ‘Gay marriage rocks! Happy engagement, Andy and Joe! Lots of love xxx’. We were thrilled when Ashers accepted our online order, and full payment of £23.40 plus £20 P&P, but the next day they sent the cancellation note and a refund.

“My gut instinct told me the cake was refused because it celebrated gay marriage.”

To prove her point, Grainne then ordered a christening cake for her goddaughter Leila.

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“Ashers couldn’t have been happier to make that cake,” she said.

“A woman from the company even offered to drive it to its destination in Dublin as a favour, because she was going that way.

“This was terribly kind, but I felt angry and sad that Ashers’ attitude to gay people is so different.”

Andy Wong (left) and Joe Palmer - getting married this summer 2017
Andy Wong (left) and Joe Palmer - getting married this summer 2017

Grainne managed to get a cake for her friends from a London bakery.

Joe said: “Thank God I live in London, where I can’t imagine something like this happening.

“I’m staggered that Ashers wouldn’t make the cake, but I’m glad that supplied it — the cake was delicious and made with love.” owner Graham Brooks said:   “Obviously, if someone wanted a racist cake for an English Defence League meeting, we’d say no, but I don’t have the right to judge others’ views unless they’re illegal.”

Grainne said: “In my view, by turning away business based on the sexual orientation of the consumer they risk being sued again.

“My friends and I don’t want to sue — Andy and Joe want to focus on their forthcoming happy day — but others might want to take action.”

Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Baking Company
Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Baking Company
Daniel McArthur, managing director of Ashers Bakery, and his wife Amy outside the High Court in Belfast in October

Sunday Life contacted Ashers, but it refused to comment.

However, on the ‘build a cake’ section of its website the company outlines its terms and conditions.

It does not mention its stance on gay marriage, but states that people must not send content or images which contain any “threatening, defamatory, blasphemous or pornographic material”.

Also on the banned list are images and content portraying “any kind of child abuse, or are racially offensive or abusive of any religion, or likely to incite hatred against any person or group, or are otherwise criminal or offensive in the minds of reasonable people, or are obscene or menacing or harassing in any way, or breach any applicable law”.

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