UK's top court: Refusing to make cake with 'Support Gay Marriage' slogan not discrimination

UK's top court: Refusing to make cake with 'Support Gay Marriage' slogan not discrimination
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The United Kingdom's highest court ruled in favor of Christian bakers who declined to bake a cake with the slogan "Support Gay Marriage," in a unanimous decision Wednesday.

"In reaching the conclusion that there was no discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in this case, I do not seek to minimise or disparage the very real problem of discrimination against gay people," president of the Supreme Court Lady Hale wrote in the decision.

"It is deeply humiliating, and an affront to human dignity, to deny someone a service because of that person’s race, gender, disability, sexual orientation or any of the other protected personal characteristics," it reads. "But that is not what happened in this case and it does the project of equal treatment no favours to seek to extend it beyond its proper scope."


Daniel and Amy McArthur, the owners of Ashers Baking Company in Northern Ireland, originally took the cake order in 2014, which requested that the cake be iced with the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie, alongisde the slogan "Support Gay Marriage," BBC reported.

Amy McArthur later contacted the man who requested it and said the bakery could not make such a cake "in conscience."

The customer, Gareth Lee who is a gay rights activist, ordered the cake for a private event campaigning for same sex marriage, according to the outlet. Lee sued the company for discrimination based on sexual orientation and political beliefs, according to the BBC.

"I know a lot of people will be glad to hear this ruling today, because this ruling protects freedom of speech and freedom of conscience for everyone," Daniel McArthur said after the ruling, BBC reported.

But, Lee said, "To me, this was never about conscience or a statement. All I wanted to do was to order a cake in a shop."

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, which backed Lee's suit, said it would examine the implications of the ruling, according to BBC.

"There is a concern that this judgement may raise uncertainty about the application of equality law in the commercial sphere, both about what businesses can do and what customers may expect," the organization's chief commissioner Michael Wardlow said, according to the news agency.

In its ruling, the court cited the U.S. Supreme Court case, Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which the owner of the Colorado-based Masterpiece Cakeshop refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

"The important message from the Masterpiece Bakery case is that there is a clear distinction between refusing to produce a cake conveying a particular message, for any customer who wants such a cake, and refusing to produce a cake for the particular customer who wants it because of that customer’s characteristics," the opinion reads.

"One can debate which side of the line particular factual scenarios fall. But in our case there can be no doubt," Hale wrote. "The bakery would have refused to supply this particular cake to anyone, whatever their personal characteristics."