A former North Down mayor who hosted the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in Bangor town hall whose celebratory cake order sparked political furore yesterday said “it is very regrettable there was discrimination in this case”.
North Down Alliance councillor Andrew Muir, who is openly gay, said he did not order the cake and “could not speak on behalf of the person who is taking the case”.
Ashers Baking Company declined an order from a gay rights activist, asking for a cake featuring the Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie.
The customer also wanted the cake to feature the logo of a Belfast-based campaign group called Queerspace.
Councillor Muir said the cake was ordered a number of weeks ago for the May 17 event - but another bakery stepped in and produced the cake. “I fully support the action taken against this bakery,” he said. “Businesses should not be able to pick and choose who they serve. There would not be any debate if the cake had depicted an anti-racism or anti-ageism slogan, nor should it require intervention from the Equality Commission for this cake for Anti-Homophobia Day.
“It is ridiculous for this bakery to suggest that they would have to endorse the campaign.
“For Northern Ireland to prosper and overcome our divisions we need a new society where businesses are willing to cater for all, regardless of religious views, political opinion, disability, race, age, sexual orientation, marital status, gender and other backgrounds.”
Project support officer James Copeland from the Rainbow Project - a health organisation that works to improve the physical, mental & emotional health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people in Northern Ireland - said: “I believe people are quite offended about what happened.” He said he did not believe there was “any maliciousness” in ordering the cake from Ashers.
“They just wanted a cake and did not expect this to turn into a great big palaver,” he said.
“At the end of the day the law states that all goods and services must be provided in an equitable sense for all people regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender, marital status, political belief, and so on. It is something you cannot pick and choose if you are a business in the Northern Ireland marketplace. So the “Equality act 2006 says very clearly.”