A BELFAST bakery which refused to bake a cake bearing the slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’ has been found guilty of discrimination.
Owners of the Ashers Baking Company, which is Christian-run, cancelled an order made at their Newtonabbey branch when they realised the design – which called for a picture of the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie arm in arm - bore the statement underneath.
A landmark case was brought against the company by the Northern Ireland Equality Committee last year, on behalf of Gareth Lee – a gay rights activist who ordered the cake to mark International Anti-Homophobia Day.
That case came to a close yesterday (May 19).
In a ruling handed down at Belfast County Court, District judge Isobel Brownlie stated: “This is direct discrimination for which there can be no justification.”
Ashers’ owner Karen McArthur, who founded the business with her husband Colin, claimed she only accepted the telephone order to “avoid conformation” but knew she could not fulfil it due to her Christian beliefs.
She later phoned Mr Lee to tell him she had to cancel the order.
Judge Brownlie told the family that, despite their "obvious" religious beliefs, “they are in business supplying services to all” and ordered them to pay damages of £500.