Bakery wins 'gay cake' court appeal

The bakery refused to ice a cake with the words 'Support gay marriage'

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled the Christian owners of Ashers Baking co were not obliged by law to make a cake featuring the words "Support Gay Marriage".

Ashers bakery's general manager Daniel McArthur took the order to "spare Mr Lee any embarrassment", but the couple then decided they "could not in conscience produce a cake with that slogan", cancelled the order and offered Lee a refund.

Lee ordered the cake in Belfast for a private function marking International Day Against Homophobia.

It failed in an appeal to the local courts in 2016 but the Supreme Court, the UK's highest judicial body, overturned that decision on Wednesday, saying the bakers' objection was to the message on the cake, not to any personal characteristics of the messenger, or anyone with whom he was associated.

"But that is not what happened in this case". They also decided that no-one was refused services or work based upon their religious beliefs, and therefore ruled in favour of Ashers.

But the ruling was hailed by the socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the province's largest party that props up Britain's minority government and has blocked attempts to legalise gay marriage in the province.

After fours years of duking it out in the courts, the U.K. Supreme Court has now ruled on the side of Ashers Bakery.

The Northern Ireland Equality Commission spent £150,000 (€190,000, $205,000) of public money in backing Lee in the case, while Ashers spent £200,000, covered by The Christian Institute, a charity and lobby group.

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Daniel and Amy McArthur, and Daniel's parents Karen and Colin McArthur, run Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland.

"They have strongly underlined the law on compelled speech, quoting a previous case which said "Nobody should be forced to have or express a political opinion in which he does not believe", he said.

The president of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale, agreed with that argument and found the bakery did not refuse to fulfil the order because of Mr Lee's sexual orientation.

Lady Hale added: "The bakers could not refuse to supply their goods to Mr Lee because he was a gay man or supported gay marriage, but that is quite different from obliging them to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed. I'm concerned that this has implications for myself and for every single person".

"The effort to impose the LGBT agenda on Christian businesses by compelling promotion of their political demands, irrespective of the conscience or religious belief of the business owner, needed to be reined in".

The legal fees for the Northern Ireland case are estimated to be more than $800,000 combined.

The McArthurs appealed, but after losing their appeal, they took their case to the United Kingdom's Supreme Court.

He said: "We're delighted and relieved at today's ruling". Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and John O'Doherty, director of the Northern Ireland LGBT organisation, Rainbow Project, debate.

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