Ashers Baking Company
On 24 October 2016, the Court of Appeal in Belfast rejected Ashers Baking Company’s appeal against a ruling which said that the business broke the law by declining to decorate a cake with a pro-gay marriage campaign slogan.
The UK Supreme Court has now confirmed that it will sit in Belfast to hear arguments in the case, commencing on 1 May 2018.
The McArthur family, who own and run Ashers, turned down the order because it conflicted with their Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.
After a protracted and costly legal action, the case brought by the taxpayer-funded Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) went against the Christian family.
Initially, in May 2015, District Judge Brownlie ruled that Ashers Baking Company broke sexual orientation and political discrimination laws. The family appealed.
At the Court of Appeal hearing in October 2016 judges recognised the fact that the family did not refuse the service because Mr Lee was gay, but nonetheless ruled that refusing the order because of its slogan “was direct discrimination”.
The McArthur family are now in the process of appealing to the UK Supreme Court.
The case, which demonstrates the need for the law to reasonably accommodate family-run businesses with firmly-held beliefs, is being backed by The Christian Institute’s Legal Defence Fund.
If you are a Christian and you are taking a stand for religious freedom, it’s The Christian Institute you want standing with you.Daniel McArthur