A judge has ruled that a Christian-owned bakery which refused to bake a cake bearing a slogan supporting same-sex marriage was guilty of discrimination.
District Judge Isobel Brownlie today ruled that Ashers had unlawfully discriminated against Gareth Lee based on the grounds of his sexual orientation.
Judge Brownlie told the court that as Ashers are “conducting a business for profit”, and not a religious group, they are not exempt from discrimination law. She accepted that Ashers have “genuine and deeply held” religious views, but said they were not above the law, reports BBC.com.
The case was brought against Ashers by Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission after the bakery refused to bake a cake for Queer Space volunteer Lee, which was to feature a picture of Sesame Street characters Burt and Ernie, and the sentence ‘Support Gay Marriage’.
Karen McArthur, one of the business’s founders, initially accepted the order for the cake, before calling Lee to tell him the message and graphic clashed with their religious beliefs.
Lee testified that the refusal made him feel like “a lesser person.”
Arguing the case earlier this month, Robin Allen QC representing Lee told the court, “But for the word ‘gay’ this order would have been fulfilled. This case is direct discrimination.”