Three years after Ashers Baking Company refused to make a cake with the slogan ‘support gay marriage’, another attempt has been made to get the bakery to make such a cake.
The initial case, which led to one of the highest profile court cases in Northern Ireland in recent years, eventually saw Belfast County Court rule that the bakery had been guilty of illegal discrimination.
That ruling was upheld at appeal by the Court of Appeal – despite the bakery owners’ argument that the message was incompatible with their Christian beliefs and their sole problem was with the message, not the customer, who had been served before and whose sexual orientation they said they did not know.
The case, which was supported by UK-wide evangelical Christian pressure group The Christian Institute, became a cause célèbre for activists on both sides of the debate.
Now, after the huge global publicity about that case, it has emerged that a renewed attempt has been made by another individual to get the bakery to produce a cake with a slogan supporting same-sex marriage.
This time, the order – for an engagement cake – was placed online by an individual in London, and the requested message read: ‘Gay marriage rocks! Happy engagement, Andy and Joe! Lots of love xxx’.
Grainne McCann, who is originally from Northern Ireland and who placed the order, told the Sunday Life: “We were thrilled when Ashers accepted our online order, and full payment of £23.40 plus £20 P&P, but the next day they sent the cancellation note and a refund.
“My gut instinct told me the cake was refused because it celebrated gay marriage.”
Ms McCann said that she then ordered a christening cake which the bakery made.
She said: “Ashers couldn’t have been happier to make that cake,” she said.
“A woman from the company even offered to drive it to its destination in Dublin as a favour, because she was going that way.”
In the end, the Sunday Life reported that the London-based woman “managed to get a cake for her friends from a London bakery”.
Despite the huge publicity surrounding the Ashers’ case over recent years, Joe Palmer – the man for whom the cake was being ordered – told the newspaper that he was “staggered that Ashers wouldn’t make the cake”.
Yesterday the bakery declined to comment on the claims.