‘Gay cake’ case: Bakery limits special order cakes pending legal advice
The bakery at the centre of the ‘gay cake’ case has made temporary changes to its ordering service for customers.
Ashers Baking Company has decided to limit the scope of its Build A Cake department while the owners review this aspect of their business and take further advice from lawyers.
The decision follows a court judgment earlier this week that the firm had discriminated by refusing to make a cake with a slogan supporting same-sex marriage.
Daniel McArthur, General Manager of Ashers, said: “Due to the recent legal developments we have decided to limit our celebration cake range to certain birthday and baby-related celebration cakes while we consider our policy and talk with our lawyers. The department represents a small part of the business and no jobs will be impacted. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to our loyal customers. Part of our website is currently under reconstruction to reflect the position.”
The court case followed a decision in May 2014 by Ashers to decline an order placed at its Belfast store by a gay rights activist asking for a cake featuring the Sesame Street puppets, Bert and Ernie, with the campaign slogan, ‘Support Gay Marriage’.
The customer also wanted the cake to feature the logo of Belfast-based campaign group QueerSpace.
Ashers, owned by Colin and Karen McArthur, refused to make the cake because it carried a message contrary to the family’s firmly-held Christian beliefs.
They were supported in their decision by their son Daniel, the General Manager of the company.
But the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) launched a civil action against the family-run bakery, claiming its actions violated equality laws in Northern Ireland and alleging discrimination under two anti-discrimination statutes – The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2006 and The Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998.
The family has been given the full support of The Christian Institute which has funded their defence costs.
The case has raised key issues of public importance regarding the protection of rights to freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience and religion.