UK Supreme Court: “Nobody should be forced to have or express a political opinion in which he does not believe.”
The UK Supreme Court has ruled in favor of two Christian bakers who refused to bake a cake iced with the slogan “support gay marriage.” In a unanimous ruling, the five member Supreme Court bench reversed the previous rulings, upholding a business owners’ right to freedom of expression and conscience.
“This court has held that nobody should be forced to have or express a political opinion in which he does not believe,” court president Brenda Hale said.
In 2015, a Northern Irish bakery, owned by evangelical Christians Daniel and Amy McArthur, was found guilty by a Belfast court of discrimination for declining to make a cake for an event marking the “International Day against Homophobia.”
“We did not turn down this order because of the person who made it, but because of the message itself,” bakery owner Daniel McArthur said. “Family businesses like ours are free to focus on giving all their customers the best service they can – without being forced to promote other people’s campaigns.”
Ireland’s leading newspaper Irish Times reported Wednesday’s ruling:
A Belfast bakery did not discriminate against a gay man when it refused to bake a cake with a message supporting gay marriage, the British supreme court has ruled.
The court found that Ashers bakery, whose owners Daniel and Amy McArthur are Christians, did not discriminate against the man and did not refuse to bake the cake for Gareth Lee because of his sexual orientation, religious belief or political opinion.
“They would have refused to make such a cake for any customer, irrespective of their sexual orientation. Their objection was to the message on the cake, not to the personal characteristics of Mr Lee or anyone else with whom he associated,” the court’s president Brenda Hale said. (…)
“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,” Lady Hale said.
The case brought forward by Gareth Lee, member of the LGBT activism group QueerSpace, was backed by the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland, a state-run body. The commission spent an estimated £500,000, or US$660,000, of tax payers’ money to litigate against the bakers, UK media reports claim.
The lawsuit bears similarities to that of a Colorado baker who won a US Supreme Court case over his refusal to bake a same-sex wedding cake in 2012. Just like in the U.S., legal activism is seen as part of a broader push by the gay right campaigners to enforce “marriage equality” in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland is the only territory in Western Europe where same-sex marriage is not recognized. Activist groups are campaigning vigorously to change the existing laws. Northern Ireland-based big corporations are backing their campaign to legalize gay marriage. Last month, executives of leading multinational companies including Coca Cola, IBM and Citibank signed an open letter in support of same-sex marriage.
[Cover image via YouTube]
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