Close to two-thirds of British adults disagree with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland’s decision to launch legal action against a Christian-run bakery, according to a new independent poll.
The YouGov survey of 2,022 adults in England, Scotland and Wales found that just a quarter think the Commission is right to take Ashers Baking Company to court because it refused to make a pro-gay marriage campaign cake.
The poll also showed that more than half (56 per cent) think it was “acceptable” for Ashers to do this, with 33 per cent finding it “unacceptable”.
Of those surveyed, 65 per cent said they disapproved of Ashers Baking Company being taken to court.
On Thursday last week, the Commission served papers on the McArthur family, who own and run the business, despite widespread opposition and national and international media interest.
Ulster Unionist MLA Michael Copeland is the third pro-gay marriage MLA to lend his support to the bakery, saying we must “respect” their views.
He said: “I don’t think that they should be forced to do what they in conscience don’t feel like doing. Neither do I think that people should be judged by the way in which that view is put forward.”
He commented, “the Equality Commission will have to justify the expenditure of money on the case”.
The Methodist Church in Ireland has joined Presbyterians and evangelical groups in expressing deep concern about the Commission’s decision.
In a statement, the Church said: “It is our belief that at the centre of this dispute there is the matter of conscience for Ashers.
“We commend the Company for their willingness to take a stance for the sake of conscience. If Ashers Bakery should suffer as a consequence of taking this stand how bizarre that the Commission action would have been in the name of ‘equality’.”
The Christian Institute is supporting the McArthur family’s legal case.