Gay cake slogan case verdict expected

Gay cake slogan case verdict expected

A verdict is due to be delivered in the case against a Christian bakery which refused to make a cake bearing a pro-gay marriage slogan.

District Judge Isobel Brownlie had reserved her judgment following three days of evidence at Belfast County Court in March.

Karen and Colin McArthur

Ashers Bakery, run by the McArthur family, is accused of discrimination after declining to produce a cake with an image of Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie below the motto “Support Gay Marriage”.

It had been ordered by gay rights activist Gareth Lee for a private function marking International Day Against Homophobia last May.

The North’s Equality Commission – which monitors compliance with the region’s anti-discrimination laws – brought the case on behalf of Mr Lee, a volunteer member of the LGBT advocacy group Queer Space.

The McArthur family, who employ 80 staff across nine branches and deliver across Ireland and the UK, have been supported by the Christian Institute, which has paid their legal fees.

Gay cake slogan case verdict expected

Gareth Lee

Giving evidence, Mr Lee claimed he was left feeling like a lesser person when his order, which was paid in full, was turned down two days after being initially accepted.

Karen McArthur, a founder and company director at Ashers, told the court she had accepted the request to avoid embarrassment or confrontation but, as a born-again Christian, knew she could not fulfil it.

The high-profile case has divided public opinion in Belfast and beyond.

Same-sex marriage remains a contentious issue in the North and attempts to have it legalised have been rejected four times by the devolved Assembly at Stormont.

The cake row has prompted a proposal to include a so-called “conscience clause” in equality legislation – a move Sinn Féin has vowed to veto.


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