Equality Commission says Belfast bakery will go to court over its refusal to bake pro-gay cake, if it does not apologise and pay immediate compensation.
In May of this year, the Christian-run Ashers Baking Company in Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim refused to take an order to bake a cake for Queerspace, an LGBT volunteer organisation in Belfast.
The cake was intended to read “Support Gay Marriage” beside the website’s logo and included Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie. At the time Ashers’ manager, 24 year-old Daniel McArthur, argued that the family-run bakery could not fulfill the order as it clashed with their ethos.
Now, the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland insist that the refusal of the order was discrimination against the customer, who needed the cake for an event to mark International Day Against Homophobia.
McArthur claims that his Christian family are in turn, being discriminated against because they believe in “traditional marriage,” and intend to fight the Equality Commission’s orders.
In a statement on the Christian Institute (CI) website, which is backing the family, he said, “We feel that the Equality Commission are pursuing us because of our beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman.
“It feels like a David and Goliath battle because on one hand we have the Equality Commission who are a public body, they’re funded by taxpayers’ money, they have massive resources at their disposal whereas we are a small family business and we have limited resources at our disposal.
“We’re continuing to hold to the stand that we took originally because we believe it’s biblical, we believe it’s what God would want us to do, and we also think that if we do cave in to the Equality Commission at this point it’ll put pressure on other citizens who are defending their view of traditional marriage.”
Simon Calvert, deputy director of CI added, “It is simply baffling for a body supposedly working for equality to be threatening a Christian family with legal action, all because of a cake.
“Is the Commission seriously saying that all business owners have to be willing to promote every political cause or campaign, no matter how much they disagree with it? Does a printer have no right to refuse to print posters for the BNP or Islamic State?
“If supporting same-sex marriage is a protected political opinion, so is supporting traditional marriage. Yet the Commission clearly favors one view over another and is prepared to litigate to prove it.”
© 2014 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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