The lawsuit against a bakery in Northern Ireland that refused to bake a pro-gay marriage cake will be heard this month.

In July, Ashers Baking Company – based in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland – refused the request of a gay rights activist for a cake showing the message ‘Support Gay Marriage’ above an image of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie.

The bakery vowed to “make a stand” after it was found to have broken anti-discrimination laws, and the Equality Commission is now taking the company to court.

It has this week been confirmed that the case will be heard on February 26 and 27, according to the News Letter.

The anti-gay Christian Institute – which believes Christians should be free to discriminate against gay people – is supporting the bakery in the case, and has taken out adverts in several newspapers calling for donations.

A full-page advert in the Belfast Telegraph says: “We’re supporting Ashers Baking Co as they face court for upholding marriage.

“The taxpayer-funded Equality Commission is taking Ashers Baking Company to court for refusing to decorate a cake with the message ‘support gay marriage’.

“The Christian Institute’s Legal Defence Fund supports Christians facing difficulties for holding to their religious beliefs in an increasingly secular society.”

“Help us help Ashers and others like them.”

The advert does not mention the Christian Institute’s long history of opposing basic gay rights measures – including same-sex adoption, the equal age of consent, anti-discrimination laws, civil partnerships, same-sex marriage, the Equality Act, and the repeal of Section 28.

In response to the row, the Democratic Unionist Party has introduced a bill that would exempt religious people from equality laws.