Three defendants as landmark battle over pro-gay marriage cake to get under way

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Court number 12 at Belfast’s Laganside Courts complex will be packed tomorrow (Thursday) morning with journalists and activists from either side of the ‘gay cake’ debate, ahead of the 10.30am start for the landmark action.

The civil hearing before Belfast County Court is listed to last two days.

For a case at county court level, there has been substantial financial expense by the two parties.

One side of the case is being funded by taxpayers via the Equality Commission, and the other side funded through what seem to be generous donations from Christians across the UK, via the Christian Institute.

When asked how much money had been raised for the legal defence (£3,000 was raised in half an hour by those outside the Waterfront Hall rally on Tuesday night)l, Simon Calvert, deputy director of the Christian Institute said that he did not know the exact figure.

He told the News Letter: “We don’t usually take up collections at our public meetings but people have been very keen to give.

“At one recent meeting in Coleraine 800 people crammed into a hotel conference room set up for 250. Because we hadn’t put out offering buckets, people took the flowers out of the hotel flower pots and filled them with donations”

Before the case even begins, a public relations battle has been under way – though it appears to have been rather one-way traffic as the Equality Commission has largely avoided discussing the case.

The case is listed as being taken by Gareth Lee – the Queerspace activist whose order for the cake was initially accepted by Ashers before being declined – and three defendants.

The defendants are Ashers Baking Company and its two directors – Colin McArthur and Karen Agnes McArthur.

It is their son, the bakery’s general manager, who until now has done interviews about the case and spoken at public meetings.

Judgment is expected to be reserved, meaning that the McArthurs will not know for some time whether they have been held liable for their decision not to make the celebration cake.

Full coverage throughout the case on www.newsletter.co.uk