MP: Commission ‘out of touch’ over Ashers court action

The equality watchdog taking a Christian-run bakery to court in Northern Ireland is going against public opinion, a DUP MP has warned.

And an MLA has said that the case is important for everyone “in terms of civil liberty”.

Revd William McCrea, the MP for South Antrim where Ashers Baking Company is based, referred to a recent survey of 2,022 British adults which showed that 65 per cent are against the Commission taking Ashers Baking Company to court.

Public opinion

He commented: “The commission is very clearly out of step with public opinion. Two-thirds of people in GB surveyed were opposed to the legal action. I have no doubt this figure would be even higher within Northern Ireland.

“This is not a case of discrimination, but one where the owners of the company have deeply held Christian beliefs and feel they must act in line with their conscience.”

“This is not a fair case as one side is a publicly funded organisation whilst the other is a small family business”.

Freedom of expression

Last week, the Commission served papers on Ashers Baking Company, claiming they discriminated against a customer by refusing to decorate a pro-gay marriage campaign cake.

East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs warned that the case could have “adverse implications for freedom of expression affecting wider society and the ability of those of faith to operate their business”.

“No one should be refused the right to purchase an item on display in a retail property, such as a cake. But the sale of a plain cake was not refused in this case and it would clearly be wrong to do so”, he added.

Implications

Mr Beggs commented that, “this case is more complicated as it is about requiring a creative person to design and make a bespoke item which they might disapprove of.

“It could have implications for artists, writers, sign makers, film makers.

“This is an important issue for everyone in terms of civil liberty, not just cake makers or the gay community.”

The Christian Institute is supporting the McArthur family’s legal case.

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