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UK: Christian bakery ‘gay cake’ row taken to PMQs

Ashley Chhibber July 9, 2014

In the first question during today’s broadcast of Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron was called on to respond to the case of the bakery which may face legal action after refusing to bake a pro-equal marriage cake.

Asher’s Baking Company, a Christian-owned bakery in 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 Equality Commission has since stated that this act broke anti-discrimination laws.

Alluding to this, Ulster Unionist MP Gregory Campbell said: “The Northern Ireland Equality Commission is threatening legal action against a family-owned bakery because they wouldn’t print a political message on a cake. The requested message was completely at variance with the company’s Christian values.”

He asked David Cameron: “Does the Prime Minister agree that so-called ‘equality’ is now being viewed by many as an oppressive threat to religious freedom, and does he further agree that such freedoms should be protected by the introduction of a ‘conscience clause’?”

Mr Cameron claimed that he was “not aware of the specific case that the honourable gentleman raises”, but that he would “go away and have a look at it”.

Nevertheless, he said: “I do think a commitment to equality, in terms of racial equality, in terms of equality to those of different sexes, equality in terms of people who have disabilities, or indeed tolerance and equality of people with different sexualities – all of that is a very important part of being British.”

Some viewers were amazed that Cameron had apparently not heard of the issue:

Viewer responses to David Cameron’s answer were mixed. Some criticised the PM’s handling of the question:

Others praised him for taking a seemingly strong line in favour of equality, particularly if he did not know the details of the case:

Speaking after PMQs, Mr Campbell said: “It is disappointing that the prime minister would not comment on the need for religious freedom to be protected through the introduction of a conscience clause. ”

He added: “Tolerance needs to be a two-way street, but this case highlights that currently those who cannot support a particular political campaign may find themselves forced before the courts. That is totally unacceptable.”

More: Bert & Ernie, Christian values, David Cameron, Discrimination, Employment, equal marriage, Equality, gay cake, Gregory Campbell, Northern Ireland, PMQs, Prime Minister's Questions, tolerance, ulster unionist

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