October 11, 2018 | Sex & Society

UK Supreme Court sides with anti-gay bakers

JudgeThe Supreme Court of the United Kingdom found that a bakery had the right to refuse making a cake with a pro-marriage equality message on it. 
Ashers Baking Co., located in Northern Ireland, turned down a special request from Gareth Lee. Lee ordered a cake decorated with Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie, with the words "support gay marriage."
“All I wanted was to order a cake in a shop that made cakes to order,” Lee explained. “I paid my money, my money was taken, and a few days later my order was refused based upon the beliefs of the business owners that made me feel like a second-class citizen.”
The McArthur family, owners of the bakery, said that same-sex marriage went against their religious beliefs, and they could not follow through with the order.
Lee sued the bakery in 2015, claiming it violated Northern Ireland’s Equality Act. The following year, a court found that Ashers had violated the law. The company challenged the decision, and took the case to the Supreme Court.
Bert and Ernie gay cake
“The bakers could not refuse to supply their goods to Mr. Lee because he is a gay man, but that is quite different from obliging them to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed," the panel of five judges ruled.  
LGBT activists were divided on the decision.
“We are very disappointed," Michael Wardlow, the head of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, said. "This judgment leaves a lack of clarity in equality law. Our understanding of certainty of the law has been overturned. The supreme court seems to see this as something that should be done on a case-by-case basis.”
“This verdict is a victory for freedom of expression," gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said in a statement. “As well as meaning that Ashers cannot be legally forced to aid the promotion of same-sex marriage, it also means that gay bakers cannot be compelled by law to decorate cakes with anti-gay marriage slogans."
Who knew that the ultimate fight for equal rights would come down to baked goods?

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