Loose Women star Coleen Nolan compares gay rights cake to ISIS cake
Loose Women presenter Coleen Nolan has caused a storm of controversy after comparing a cake supporting same-sex marriage to one supporting terrorist group ISIS.
The presenter made the comments while hosting the ITV programme today, and was joined by Janet Street-Porter and Jamelia, as they discussed the ruling made in Belfast today which found that Ashers Bakery unlawfully discriminated by refusing to make a pro-same-sex marriage cake.
Last July, Ashers Baking Company – based in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland – refused the request of gay rights activist Gareth Lee 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 took the company to court after the bakery rejected a legal settlement.
District Judge Isobel Brownlie today ruled that the bakery had unlawfully discriminated against Mr Lee both based on sexual orientation and political or religious grounds.
Janet Street-Porter suggested that Mr Lee had purely set out to “test” equalities legislation. She said it is “a very difficult case I think. There’s no doubt that they were sought out to test the law. It was someone who wanted to test the equality and anti-discrimination laws. You can see where both sides are coming from.”
Street-Porter also incorrectly said “gay marriage is legal in Northern Ireland” – despite the DUP government continuing to block it.
She continued: “The bakery in my opinion was always going to lose. But I feel rather sympathetic towards them.
“I would not like to see their business close down, nor do I think they’re bigots. I think they have beliefs that we may or may not agree with…. I’ve had so many rows with my gay friends about this.”
She later said: “They have got equal rights in law but they can choose where they go to get their cakes.”
Same-sex marriage is legal in England, Scotland and Wales, but remains illegal in Northern Ireland.
Singer Jamelia added: “I think that their religious rights aren’t being taken into account. I understand and completely support equal rights for everyone but if someone went in and asked for a sexually explicit cake.
“It would be something that they would be uncomfortable with . Should they be forced to do that? If they denied somebody that would the not be doing the same thing?
“I think everyone should be allowed to have their opinions, their views. And I think that everyone should be allowed to practice their religions. I’m a huge supporter of gay rights… I believe in gay marriage – but I also understand that not everyone agrees with me and that also should be okay.”
Coleen Nolan said someone in a similar situation should “just never go back to that shop”, and “probably say to all of your gay friends don’t go there…”
She went on: “What about if someone walked in and said I want a cake and I want the whole Islamic State on it, and how I support them killing our people.”
Street-Porter said she thought Coleen was right.
Ruth Langsford chimed in: “Possibly according to this [case], they would have to.”
Selling a cake with the Islamic State flag, and a message supporting the killing of British troops would be banned under terrorism laws in the UK.
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Back in 2007, Nolan caused controversy when she said “there is only so much I want to accept”, and that gay couples should not be allowed to adopt.
Speaking to the media after the ruling, Daniel McArthur said the bakery would not close, and that despite the ruling, they did not consider that they had done anything wrong.
Mr McArthur said: “We will not be closing down. We have not done anything wrong.”
Paul Givan, a DUP member of the Northern Irish Assembly, spoke after the ruling to say that he thought there was huge disappointment in the judgement and that it was an assault on faith.
Mr Lee, who was awarded £500 in compensation, said he was delighted with the outcome and that he would donate the money to charity.
ITV has declined to comment on the issue.
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