Equality Commission gives Ashers Bakery extra time

Ashers general manager Daniel McArthur
Ashers general manager Daniel McArthur

The Equality Commission has given Ashers Baking Company more time to respond to what it claimed was the bakery’s “unlawful” conduct in refusing to make a cake promoting gay marriage.

It emerged last week that the quango wrote to the Newtownabbey business on June 26 after it took on the case of a gay rights activist who complained at the refusal of the bakery, which is owned by a Christian family, to decorate the cake as he had requested.

In the letter, Ashers was told that if it did not put forward “proposals to remedy your unlawful discrimination” within seven days, it would face court action.

Last week, Ashers’ general manager Daniel McArthur told the News Letter that the commission never contacted the firm to ask for its side of the story before deciding that it had acted “unlawfully”.

Yesterday, Mr McArthur said that the commission had still not asked the bakery for its version of events. But he said that the bakery had written to the commission asking for four weeks to respond to its threat and the equality body had agreed to this.

There have been calls for a boycott of Ashers from some of those opposed to its stance, while other people who support the bakery’s position have said they will specifically shop there.

When asked if there had been a noticeable impact on sales, Mr McArthur said that the Twelfth holidays made it difficult to make direct comparisons but that there had definitely been no noticeable drop in business.