The UK Supreme Court is to rule the final decision about the ‘Gay Cake’ case whether Christian owners of a bakery in Belfast refused to make a cake decorated with the words “Support Gay Marriage” based on “religious grounds”.
Five Supreme Court justices will announce their decision in London on Wednesday, October 10.
The ‘Gay Cake’ case started in 2014, when Gareth Lee, a member of LGBT+ advocacy group QueerSpace, ordered a cake from the Irish bakery featuring Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie for a private function marking International Day Against Homophobia.
At first, his order was accepted and he paid in full but, a few days later, the company contacted Mr Lee saying that they would not make a cake with the message requested.
In the original court case, District Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled religious beliefs could not dictate the law and ordered the firm to pay damages of £500.
Mounting a failed challenge at the Court of Appeal in Belfast in 2016, Ashers contended that it was never an issue with Mr Lee’s sexuality, rather the message he was seeking to put on the cake.
The Christian Institute which is supporting financially the bakery in the case said: “It’s not about turning away customers because of something to do with their nature the customer himself or herself. It’s to do with whether you can be forced by law to help promote a cause which you fundamentally disagree.”
Lee told the court that the refusal “made me feel I’m not worthy, a lesser person and to me that was wrong”.
Mr Scoffield told the justice that the case, a simple transaction, raised an issue of principle since those with deeply-held or philosophical convictions could be compelled to act against their beliefs.
Robin Allen QC, for Mr Lee, said: “This was a relatively small incident in his life which has become enormously significant and continue to be so. That is a heavy burden to bear for one individual.
The infamous ‘Gay Cake’ case has run for four years and attracted a lot of attention.
Northern Ireland is the only country in the UK where same-sex marriage is outlawed, with Theresa May’s DUP allies staunch opponents of changing the law.
The Supreme Court win rule on whether Ashers “directly discriminated” against Mr Lee on ground of sexual orientation contrary to the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2006, and religious and political belief, contrary to the Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998, by refusing to make a cake decorated with the requested message.
The justice has also been asked to relevant provisions under the regulations and order breached the McArthur family’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights relating to freedom to manifest one’s religious beliefs and freedom of expression.
© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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