Ashers gay cake appeal looming

Daniel McArthur of Ashers Baking Company with his wife Amy at Laganside courts in Belfast last year
Daniel McArthur of Ashers Baking Company with his wife Amy at Laganside courts in Belfast last year

The Christian owners of a Belfast bakery which was found guilty of discrimination for refusing to supply a cake with a gay slogan are “looking forward” to an appeal hearing in court next week, a spokesman has said.

The case against Ashers Baking Company was taken by gay rights activist Gareth Lee and backed by the NI Equality Commission.

In May last year a Belfast judge said the company - which is managed by Daniel McArthur - was guilty of discrimination. The a case made headlines across the world and caused intense debate.

Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service has confirmed that the appeal will be held in the Appeal Court on February 3 and 4.

Simon Calvert from the Christian Institute, which is helping to fund the McArthurs’ case, told the News Letter: “We are looking forward to the opportunity to put forward the appeal and the very strong arguments which exist in this case.

“An awful lot of people feel that the county court ruling was simply mistaken.

“I very much hope that the McArthurs’ lawyers will be able to persuade the Court of Appeal.”

He added: “I think a lot of people - whether they agree with their decision or not - will be hoping that the McArthurs succeed.

“The ramifications of the county court decision for free speech are very far reaching, whoever you are or whatever you believe.”