Christian bakery wins 'gay cake' ruling from UK supreme court

  • A Northern Irish bakery was taken to court after it declined to take an order which supported gay marriage.
  • The bakery was initially found to have discriminated against the customer's sexuality and beliefs.
  • However the U.K. supreme court has overruled the decision.
Bakery owners Amy and Daniel McArthur, who own 'Ashers' in Belfast, outside the Supreme Court after winning their appeal against a gay rights campaigner who took the business to court after they refused to make a cake, promoting same-sex marriage. 
Leon Neal | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Bakery owners Amy and Daniel McArthur, who own 'Ashers' in Belfast, outside the Supreme Court after winning their appeal against a gay rights campaigner who took the business to court after they refused to make a cake, promoting same-sex marriage. 

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has ruled that Christian owners of a bakery were entitled to refuse to bake a cake that supported same-sex marriage.

Ashers Baking Company, based in Northern Ireland, was taken to court after it declined to take an order at its Belfast branch in 2014 from Gareth Lee, a gay rights activist.

He had wanted the cake to include a slogan that said "support gay marriage" along with a picture of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street. The bakery initially took the order but later canceled it and refunded Lee.

After the refusal, the Northern Irish Equality Commission took up legal action, warning that the gay man had been discriminated against on grounds of his sexuality. The bakery countered that it was expressing religious freedom.

Gay rights campaigner Gareth Lee speaks to the media outside the Supreme Court after hearing that Bakery owners Amy and Daniel McArthur, who own 'Ashers' in Belfast, had won their appeal against him.
Leon Neal | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Gay rights campaigner Gareth Lee speaks to the media outside the Supreme Court after hearing that Bakery owners Amy and Daniel McArthur, who own 'Ashers' in Belfast, had won their appeal against him.

In 2015 a Belfast court initially found in favor of Lee, ruling that the man had both his political beliefs and sexual orientation discriminated against.

But the firm ultimately pursued the case through to the Supreme Court and on Wednesday won their appeal, with all five judges unanimous in overturning the decision.

In her summary, Lady Hale, the president of the Supreme Court, said the bakery had refused to bake a cake with a message on which they disagreed, and that this was "quite different" from refusing service to a gay man with a certain political belief.

According to one report, the combined legal fees for both sides amount to £450,000 ($592,000). The original cost of the cake would have been £36.50.