The UK Supreme Court will consider a judgment against the Christian-owned bakery which breached equality laws by refusing to make a cake which supported same-sex marriage.
A two-day hearing for legal arguments in October has been listed by the court, the highest in the UK, it was announced today.
The owners of Ashers Bakery in Belfast were found guilty in 2015 of unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation.
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.
The cake, which was eventually made by a rival bakery, also displayed the logo of LGBT advocacy group Queer Space.
The order had been placed at the shop in person by LGBT rights activist Gareth Lee, who said during the 2015 court case that Ashers’ refusal made him “feel like a lesser person”.
Daniel McArthur, the general manager of Ashers, told Irish broadcaster RTÉ: “The fact that the Supreme Court is willing to hear arguments is very encouraging and reflects the importance of the issues and the high-profile nature of the case.”
The bakers claimed in a legal brief that God considers it a sin to make cakes with pro-gay messages on, but multiple courts have upheld the decision against them.
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The original case saw District Judge Isobel Brownlie rule that religious beliefs could not dictate the law, subsequently ordering the bakery to pay damages of £500.
Ashers was back in the news last week after its owners reportedly refused to bake an engagement cake for a same-sex couple.
Grainne McCann had ordered a cake through Ashers’ online bakery to celebrate the engagement of her friends Joe Palmer and Andy Wong.
The pair were celebrating their engagement ahead of their wedding this summer – but Ashers abruptly cancelled McCann’s cake order.
McCann alleged: “My gut instinct told me the cake was refused because it celebrated gay marriage.”
Ashers declined to comment. The bakery’s website states that it will not print content which is “threatening, defamatory, blasphemous or pornographic”.
This week, the bakery reported an increase of £200,000 in their profits.
Another Christian bakery in Oregon, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, has also waged a court battle against anti-discrimination rules.
Owners Melissa and Aaron Klein claimed it would be “sinful” to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, but were ordered to pay $135,000 in costs and damages.