The Christian Institute’s petition in support of Ashers Baking Company has passed 8,000 signatures, ahead of the bakery’s court appeal tomorrow.
The outpouring of support after just ten days reflects widespread concern over last year’s county court ruling against Ashers.
The petition, which can be signed at http://www.christian.org.uk/supportashers, states: “I support Ashers Baking Co and the McArthur family in their stand for freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.”
Tomorrow the Court of Appeal in Belfast will hear arguments from Ashers’ lawyers in the case.
Ashers declined to decorate a cake with the words “Support Gay Marriage” in May 2014 because of the company’s owners’ Christian belief that marriage can only be between one man and one woman.
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland took Ashers to court and in May last year a District Judge ruled that the bakery had breached political and sexual orientation discrimination regulations.
Ahead of the case, Ashers manager Daniel McArthur and his wife Amy spoke out.
Daniel said: “It was clear we did not hate anyone. We didn’t want to discriminate against anyone.
“We did what we did because of our Christian beliefs.
“It’s done out of love for God, to obey Him.”
Amy spoke about the crucial importance of her faith, saying: “It is my life. It isn’t just something I just do at church. If they think it’s unfashionable, if they think it’s culturally irrelevant, that doesn’t matter to me.
“What matters to me is that I live my life as best I can according to God’s commands and His word.”