The Northern Irish Attorney General has been allowed to participate in an appeal in the ‘gay cake’ discrimination case.
Senior judges allowed Attorney General John Larkin to take part in the appeal after Ashers Bakery appealed a ruling that it discriminated by refusing to make a “support gay marriage” cake.
The owners of Ashers Bakery in Belfast were found guilty of unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation and political or religious grounds, after the company in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland refused to bake a cake showing the message ‘Support Gay Marriage’ above an image of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie.
Despite losing its initial case, the bakery owners are pursuing a legal appeal of the ruling which starts today (February 3) – with the company receiving financial and legal help from the Christian Institute.
The bakery was ordered to pay £500 last year for refusing to bake the cake for Gareth Lee with a picture of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie and the message ‘Support Gay Marriage’.
Mr Larkin on Thursday took to court to say the ramifications of the interpretation of the sexual orientation regulations could be “potentially enormous”.
“The issue of political and religious discrimination is direct,” Mr Larkin said.
The senior judges hearing the appeal, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, Lord Justice Weir and Lord Justice Gillen, issued devolution notices, admitting Mr Larkin made a convincing case.
The lord chief justice said: “We are satisfied that there is an issue about whether or not the relevant statutes give rise to direct discrimination issues which is more than frivolous and vexatious.”
Mr Larkin now has the right to make representations when the bakery’s management go back to court in May.