The County Court has held that a bakery in Northern Ireland directly discriminated against a customer on grounds of his sexual orientation when it refused to bake a cake for him with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” on it.
The bakery – Ashers Baking Co. – argued that they would have refused to bake the cake for a heterosexual customer, and that, therefore, they had not discriminated against this customer – Mr Leigh – for being gay.
The County Court Judge disagreed, and held that this was the wrong point of comparison. The correct point of comparison would be a heterosexual customer ordering a cake carrying the slogan “Support Heterosexual Marriage”. Because they would have baked this cake, but not the gay marriage one, Ashers were guilty of discrimination.
Ashers also attempted to argue that they were a Christian-based organisation, and sought to rely on the exemption for certain religious organisations in Northern Ireland legislation. The judge refused this argument as well, saying that they were a for-profit business and not able to rely on the exemption.
This is another case where the sexual orientation rights have trumped rights to manifest religious beliefs.
Ashers have said they will appeal.