Opening arguments have begun in Belfast’s infamous “gay cake” case.
Gareth Lee told Belfast County Court that he ordered a cake with an image of Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie below the motto ‘Support Gay Marriage’ from Ashers Bakery last May, before receiving a call later that day telling him that they would not be processing the order on “religious grounds”.
Lee, a volunteer at LGBT organisation Queerspace, told the court that the refusal “made me feel I’m not worthy, a lesser person and to me that was wrong.”
Ironically, Lee had ordered the cake to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).
Lee’s lawyer, Robin Allen QC stated that the bakery’s refusal to make the cake was as unreasonable as a postman refusing to post a letter. ”A postman taking a letter to the door or a printer carrying out a printing job – nobody would say that involved promoting or support,” he said.
”It’s simply a functional relationship, a working relationship.”
The case has caused much debate throughout Northern Ireland. A recent ComRes poll of 1,000 citizens found that 77% believe the Equality Commission should not be using its public-funded budget to pursue Ashers through the courts. In the same poll, 90% said they believe equality laws should not be used to force people into saying or doing something they oppose, instead it should protect from discrimination.
Speaking outside Laganside Court today, Daniel McArthur (main picture), manager of Ashers bakery, told reporters, ”We just didn’t want to be forced to use our creative skills to help endorse and promote a campaign message that went against our sincerely held religious beliefs. We are just trying to be faithful to the Bible.
”We think it is wrong to use the laws to force anyone to say something that they oppose and hope that the court will take the same view.”
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