Bakers who refused to make a pro-gay marriage cake have lost their challenge against a discrimination ruling.
In 2014, the owners of Ashers Baking Co, which is based in Newtownabbey near Belfast, Northern Ireland, received an order for cake to feature the phrase “Support Gay Marriage” as well as Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie. However, having accepted the order they then decided not to make it. They claimed the requested message went against their religious beliefs and refused to apologise to the customer even when ordered to do so.
During a hearing in May, a judge ruled they had discriminated against the customer as their bakery was not religious organisation but “a business to provide service to all”. As a result, they were ordered to pay damages of £500.
The bakers challenged this decision in the Irish Court of Appeal in Belfast, but their efforts were rejected. In his judgment, Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan explained that if “a baker provides a cake for a particular team or portrays witches on a Halloween cake [it] does not indicate any support for either”.
The Court ruled that the original judge had been correct in declaring that the bakery had “discriminated against the respondent directly on the grounds of sexual orientation contrary to the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2006”.