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Supreme Court rules no discrimination in 'gay cake' case

10 October 2018

The Supreme Court in Lee v Ashers Baking Company Ltd was asked to consider whether a refusal to make a cake in support of gay marriage amounted to discrimination because of sexual orientation, religious belief or political opinion.

Mr and Mrs McArthur ran a bakery business and when asked by Mr Lee to produce a cake with the message “Support Gay Marriage”, they refused because of their Christian belief. Mr Lee subsequently complained to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and brought claims for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, religious belief and political opinion. Belfast County Court upheld Mr Lee’s claims and the Court of Appeal subsequently dismissed the appeal, upholding Mr Lee’s claim for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. However, the Supreme Court today unanimously allowed the appeal.

The Supreme Court noted that while the bakery could not have refused to provide a cake to Mr Lee because he was a gay man or because he supported gay marriage, the objection here was to the message and not to any particular person. They had previously made cakes for Mr Lee and therefore the refusal came from the fact that they deeply disagreed with the message. As such, the Supreme Court concluded that there was no discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, religious belief or political opinion.

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