A bakery in Northern Ireland could be prosecuted after it cancelled on order for a cake promoting gay marriage.
Ashers Baking Co, in Newtownabbey near Belfast, received an order for a cake featuring the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie arm in arm, along with the slogan ‘support gay marriage’ and the logo of campaign group Queerspace.
The baker took the order but subsequently cancelled it, saying that making the cake would breach the director’s religious beliefs and endorse campaigners’ efforts to legalise gay marriage in the province. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where same sex marriage remains illegal.
However, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has now warned the firm that refusal of the order could amount to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, saying the bakery could be prosecuted if it does not remedy its “illegal discrimination” within seven days.
Ashers has received support from the religious charity the Christian Institute who insist that refusal to support a political campaign does not amount to discrimination. The charity’s Colin Hart said the threat of legal action set a “dangerous precedent”.
“This means millions of ordinary people who do not agree with gay marriage, face intimidation and the real threat of legal action from the forces of political correctness if they, out of conscience, decline to provide good or services to campaign groups they do not agree with or support.”