Bakery faces action for alleged anti-gay discrimination

14 November 2014

DEMOTIX

Challenged: Ashers, in Newtownabbey, Belfast 

Challenged: Ashers, in Newtownabbey, Belfast 

A CHRISTIAN bakery owner has been threatened with legal action by the Northern Ireland Equality Commission for refusing to bake a cake with the slogan on it "Support gay marriage".

The customer who made the complaint, a gay-rights activist, took the case to the Commission, which has now written to the family-run Ashers Baking Company, Belfast, threatening action for alleged discrimination unless compensation is offered to the complainant.

The general manager of the bakery, Daniel McArthur, said: "It feels like a David and Goliath battle because, on one hand, we have the Equality Commission, who are a public body - they're funded by taxpayers' money, they have massive resources at their disposal - whereas we are a small family business, and we have limited resources at our disposal.

"We're continuing to hold to the stand that we took originally because we believe it's biblical; we believe it's what God would want us to do, and we also think that if we do cave in to the Equality Commission at this point, it'll put pressure on other citizens who are defending their view of traditional marriage."

He said that many Christian support-groups had backed Ashers' stance in the gay-marriage issue in Northern Ireland, where the Stormont Assembly has repeatedly rejected attempts to change the law in order to allow same-sex marriage.

A spokesman for the Equality Commission confirmed that a letter had been sent to the bakery, warning that a civil bill would be issued if the company did not pay "modest compensation" to the complainant, and give assurances that there would be no repetition of the alleged breach.

Church Times: about us

The Church Times Podcast

Interviews and news analysis from the Church Times team. Listen to this week’s episode online

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read twelve articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)