The renowned actor and human rights campaigner Sir Patrick Stewart has said that he backs the stand being made by Ashers Baking Company.
Sir Patrick, a prominent supporter of same-sex marriage, said that he defends the McArthur family’s right to object to something which is offensive to their beliefs.
He made the remarks during an interview on BBC 2′s Newsnight last night.
On the side of the bakers
Newsnight presenter Evan Davis asked the actor, famous for his roles as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek and Charles Xavier in the X-Men series, which side should have won in the Ashers case.
Davis asked: “Who has the right there? The couple who say ‘we want you to put yes to gay marriage on the cake’, or the people who have to make the cake, who say ‘we don’t want to put that on the cake’?”
Sir Patrick replied: “You’ve actually picked, I think, a deliciously difficult subject because finally I found myself on the side of the bakers.”
Right to object
“It was not because this was a gay couple that they objected, it was not because they were going to be celebrating some kind of marriage or agreement between them. It was the actual words on the cake that they objected to, because they found them offensive.
“And I would support their right to say ‘no this is personally offensive to my beliefs, I will not do it’.”
Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Stephen Nolan Show this morning, Deputy Director of The Christian Institute Simon Calvert commended Sir Patrick in a discussion with PinkNews CEO Ben Cohen.
Mr Calvert said: “He’s like a lot of people who support same-sex marriage, in that they just think that what is being done to the McArthur family in this particular case is going too far.
“It’s very fair of him isn’t it? He strongly supports gay marriage but he thinks that the McArthurs should not be legally obliged to help promote it.”
Mr Calvert argued that this is a distinction that most people see, whether they share the McArthur family’s Christian faith and views on marriage or not.
He added: “Most people can imagine a situation in which they are asked to do something which requires them to go against their profoundly held beliefs and they think ‘well I shouldn’t be forced to do that so why should the McArthurs?’.”