Actor Patrick Stewart has taken to Facebook to explain why he supported Asher’s Bakery, following a barrage of online critics calling him “anti-gay”.
Last week, owners of the Belfast bakery were found guilty of unlawful discrimination in the highly publicised ‘gay cake row’. Following the ruling, Patrick Stewart was asked his thoughts while speaking about his Amnesty International advocacy on BBC Newsnight.
Speaking about the Asher’s Bakery scandal last week, Stewart, a long-time supporter of LGBT rights confused fans by saying he was “on the side of the bakers” and supported their right to refuse to bake a cake supporting same-sex marriage. He wrote that both equality and freedom of speech were basic human rights, and that one should not be “compromised in the pursuit of another”.
“As part of my advocacy for Amnesty International, I gave an interview on a number of subjects related to human rights, civil rights and freedom of speech. During the interview, I was asked about the Irish bakers who refused to put a message on a cake which supported marriage equality, because of their beliefs,” he said.
“In my view, this particular matter was not about discrimination, but rather personal freedoms and what constitutes them, including the freedom to object. Both equality and freedom of speech are fundamental rights— and this case underscores how we need to ensure one isn’t compromised in the pursuit of the other. I know many disagree with my sentiments, including the courts. I respect and understand their position, especially in this important climate where the tides of prejudices and inequality are (thankfully) turning.
“What I cannot respect is that some have conflated my position on this single matter to assume I’m anti-equality or that I share the personal beliefs of the bakers. Nothing, absolutely nothing, could be further from the truth. I have long championed the rights of the LGBT community, because equality should not only be, as the people of Ireland powerfully showed the world, universally embraced, but treasured,” he concluded.
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