Case History

The McArthur family own and run Ashers bakery. They were pursued through the courts by the taxpayer-funded Equality Commission for Northern Ireland when they turned down an order for a same-sex marriage campaign cake because it conflicted with their Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.

On 10 October 2018 Ashers Baking Co won its case at the Supreme Court.

In May 2018 the UK Supreme Court heard Ashers Baking Company’s case. The family-run bakery was appealing against a ruling which said it broke the law by declining to decorate a cake with a pro-gay marriage campaign slogan.

The ruling, handed down on 10 October 2018, saw the judges unanimously vindicate the bakery.

On 7 January 2022, the European Court of Human Rights dismissed an attempt to challenge the Supreme Court ruling.

LGBT activist Gareth Lee had sought to take the United Kingdom to court, claiming the Supreme Court’s ruling disproportionately interfered with his human rights.

The Court ruled the application to be “inadmissable” and that Lee was asking the Court “to usurp the role of the domestic courts”. The decision is final.

The protracted and costly legal action in the UK courts was brought by the taxpayer-funded Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI).

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 case, which demonstrated the need for the law to reasonably accommodate family-run businesses with firmly-held beliefs, has been backed throughout 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

Supreme Court Judgment: 10 October


Key Resources