DUBLIN (CNS) — A Northern Ireland court ruled that a Christian bakery discriminated against a gay man when it declined to make a cake carrying a message in support of same-sex marriage.
Ashers Bakery, a family-run business that employs more than 60 people, came under scrutiny by the region’s Equality Commission for declining a request for a cake with an image of Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie below the motto “Support Gay Marriage.”
Belfast District Court Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled May 19 that, as a business, Ashers was not exempt from the discrimination law. The judge said she accepted that Ashers owners had “genuine and deeply held” religious views, but said the business was not above the law.
The firm’s general manager, Daniel McArthur, said he was “extremely disappointed” by the ruling and was considering an appeal.
“We’ve said from the start that our issue was with the message on the cake, not with the customer, and that we didn’t know what his sexual orientation was, and it wasn’t relevant, either,” he said. “We’ve always been happy to serve any customers who come into our shops.
“The ruling suggests that all business owners will have to be willing to promote any cause or campaign, no matter how much they disagree with it,” McArthur said.
A spokesman for the Catholic Church declined to comment, saying church leaders wanted to carefully consider the 15-page judgment in detail before commenting. Previously, Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor, the diocese based in Belfast, called for the introduction of a conscience clause to protect businesses run by people of faith.
Ashers has been fined 500 pounds ($775).
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson criticized the Northern Ireland Equality Commission for spending 30,000 pounds of public funds in taking the case.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: In smuggling season, Europe struggles with migrant crisis
NEXT: Syrian nun describes bombing of family, pleads ‘Pray for Aleppo’
Share this story