Ashers Baking Company to mount appeal against court ruling

Bakery owners Daniel McArthur and his wife Amy pictured outside the court after the verdict.
Bakery owners Daniel McArthur and his wife Amy pictured outside the court after the verdict.

Ashers Baking Company, the Christian-run bakery at the centre of a discrimination case over a so-called ‘gay cake’ has decided to appeal.

The business was ordered to pay £500 for refusing to make a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan on it.

The McArthur family, who own and run Ashers, have decided to challenge the ruling after consulting with their legal advisors.

In a statement, the family said: “After much careful and prayerful consideration given to legal advice, we have decided to appeal the judgement handed down last Tuesday.

“We continue to insist that we have done nothing wrong as we have discriminated against no individual but rather acted according to what the Bible teaches regarding marriage.

“As many other people have already noted, Christian beliefs seem to have been trampled over in this judgement and we believe this only has negative effects for our society.

“Our hope and prayer would be that an appeal will allow us and other Christians to live out their faith in Jesus Christ in every part of their lives, including their workplace.”

The case followed a decision in May 2014 by Ashers to decline an order placed at its Belfast store. A gay rights activist had requested a cake featuring the Sesame Street puppets, Bert and Ernie, with the campaign slogan, ‘Support Gay Marriage’.

The customer also wanted the cake to feature the logo of Belfast-based campaign group QueerSpace.

Ashers, owned by Colin and Karen McArthur, refused to make the cake because it carried a message contrary to the family’s firmly-held Christian beliefs.

They were supported by their son Daniel, the General Manager of the company.

But the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI), which publicly backs same-sex marriage, launched a civil action against the family-run bakery claiming the family’s actions violated equality laws in Northern Ireland and alleged discrimination under two anti-discrimination statutes – The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2006 and The Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998.

The McArthurs are being supported by The Christian Institute which is funding their legal costs.

Simon Calvert of The Christian Institute said: “I believe that most people think that this is a ruling that should be overturned.

“There has been such extraordinary support from people from all walks of life who are appalled by what has happened to the McArthur family. There is huge public support for an appeal and it is vitally important that the higher courts consider this issue.”

He added: “This court decision will have dramatic consequences if it stands.”