Christian bakers seek permission to appeal to Supreme Court over ‘gay cake’ case
Bakery owners who refused to make a ‘gay’ cake are seeking a ruling on whether they can appeal to the Supreme Court, after losing their case and an appeal.
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 took their case to the Belfast Court of Appeal – with financial and legal help from the anti-LGBT Christian Institute.
The Court of Appeal last month dismissed the appeal from Daniel and Amy McArthur, who claimed in their appeal that God considers it a sin to make cakes with pro-gay messages on.
Their appeal had challenged the grounds for a discrimination case – claiming the alleged discrimination was against the message on the cake, and not the person buying it.
Today, they requested a further ruling to clarify whether they can appeal to the Supreme Court.
Under guidelines for civil cases, appeals to the Supreme Court are not always possible.
In a letter they requested leave to appeal, asking: “In view of the complexity of these issues… and the wider public importance which this case clearly has, and in order to make clear that the appellants (Ashers) have exhausted their domestic remedies… we respectfully invite the Court of Appeal to consider giving a short ruling on the question of whether appeal to the United Kingdom Supreme Court is available in this case”.
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Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said: “Under the complex rules regarding appeals in civil cases, such as the Ashers case, the Court of Appeal decision seems to be final, according to the terms of the Judicature Act 1978.”
The bakers could still appeal through the European justice system.
Last month, Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan ruled: “The fact that a baker provides a cake for a particular team or portrays witches on a Halloween cake does not indicate any support for either.”
The judgement continues: “Counsel for the appellants [claimed] that a protected characteristic could not be established by a difference in treatment in respect of a message on a cake.
“We do not accept this. The benefit from the message or slogan on the cake could only accrue to gay or bisexual people.
“The appellants would not have objected to a cake carrying the message ‘Support Heterosexual Marriage’ or indeed ‘Support Marriage’.
“We accept that it was the use of the word “Gay” in the context of the message which prevented the order from being fulfilled. The reason that the order was cancelled was that the appellants would not provide a cake with a message supporting a right to marry for those of a particular sexual orientation.
“This was a case of association with the gay and bisexual community and the protected personal characteristic was the sexual orientation of that community. Accordingly this was direct discrimination.”