'Gay cake' row family keeping faith

'Gay cake' row family keeping faith
Karen and Colin McArthur.

The Christian owners of a bakery taken to court for refusing to make a cake bearing a pro-gay marriage slogan have said faith is sustaining them ahead of the judgment.

Ashers bakery, which is owned and run by the McArthur family, was subject to legal action by a gay rights activist whose order it rejected on religious grounds.

Gareth Lee’s legal challenge in Belfast County Court was supported and funded by the Northern Ireland Equality Commission – a watchdog body that monitors compliance with the region’s anti-discrimination laws.

The McArthur family is backed by the Christian Institute, which paid their defence costs.

The high-profile case was heard in March and district judge Isobel Brownlie will deliver her reserved judgment on Tuesday.

'Gay cake' row family keeping faithAmy and Daniel McArthur.

Ahead of the judgment hearing, bakery manager Daniel McArthur, whose parents Colin and Karen founded the business, said the legal process had been “difficult and exhausting”.

“Our faith is very important to us; it determines how we live, how we bring up our children, how we run our business, how we meet and how we engage with other people in society, so yes we can’t leave it out whenever we go to work in the morning,” said the 25-year-old.

“It’s been a difficult and exhausting time for us as a family but God has been faithful to us. And He has given us the strength to deal with this, and we know and trust in Him that going forward He will continue to give us His strength.”

Mr McArthur also paid tribute to his wife Amy and thanked those who have supported his family, in particular the Christian Institute.

Other than his evidence in court, Mr Lee has not yet spoken publicly about the case.

'Gay cake' row family keeping faithGareth Lee.

A volunteer member of LGBT advocacy group Queer Space, he had ordered the cake in Ashers’ Belfast city centre shop for a private function in Bangor, Co Down, staged to mark International Day Against Homophobia last May.

He requested a cake with an image of Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie below the motto Support Gay Marriage.

Giving evidence in the county court, Mr Lee claimed the rejection left him feeling like a lesser person.

”It made me feel I’m not worthy, a lesser person and to me that was wrong,” he told Judge Brownlie.

The case has sharply divided public opinion in the North and beyond, making headlines across the world.

Gay marriage is a divisive issue in the North and the Assembly at Stormont last month voted down a fourth bid to legalise it.

The cake row has also prompted a political proposal to include a so-called “conscience clause” in equality legislation.

The Democratic Unionist Party, whose MLA Paul Givan is bringing forward the Private Members’ Bill, says businesses should have the right to refuse to provide services they believe could compromise their religious beliefs.

However, Sinn Féin has vowed to veto the bill.

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