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UK Supreme Court backs bakers who refused to make 'support gay marriage' cake

Bakery owners Daniel and Amy McArthur refused to bake the cake with a pro-same-sex marriage slogan on it.

Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Baking Company
Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Baking Company
Image: Niall Carson via PA Images

Updated Oct 10th 2018, 10:09 AM

THE OWNERS OF a Belfast bakery have won their appeal over a finding that they discriminated against a customer over its refusal to make a wedding cake with a slogan supporting gay marriage. 

The row ignited after an order for the cake was placed at the Ashers’ city centre branch in May 2014 by gay rights activist Gareth Lee.

Bakery owners Daniel and Amy McArthur - both of whom are evangelical Christians - were caught up in the controversy after refusing to bake the cake with a pro-same-sex marriage slogan on it.

It was decided by the Northern Ireland Equality Commission that their decision breached laws against discrimination. This was backed up by the District Court and the High Court.

In 2015, a Belfast District Court ruled that the Ashers Bakery’s refusal to bake the cake amounted to “a clear case of discrimination”.

In late 2016, the bakery lost an appeal to that ruling, and last year launched an appeal in the UK Supreme Court.

The court heard the case on 1 and 2 May of this year. It was the first time it had sat in Northern Ireland.

This morning, the UK Supreme Court ruled in favour of the appeal. 

The judgement reads: “The Supreme Court unanimously holds that it has jurisdiction to hear an appeal against all aspects of the Court of Appeal’s judgement, finding that the Court of Appeal erred in refusing to make a reference pursuant to the Attorney General’s notice under paragraph 33. 

It grants the appellants permission to appeal and allow their appeals. 

“The Court concludes that neither the SORs nor the FETO imposes civil liability on the appellants for the refusal to express a political opinion contrary to their religious beliefs.” 

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