BY SCO Admin | October 28 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

6-CAKE

Scottish church criticises ‘Gay cake’ ruling

A court has ruled a Christian bakery in Belfast cannot refuse to bake a cake celebrating gay marriage in what the Scottish Church called ‘a blow to freedom of conscience.’

Appeal court judges said that the bakers were not allowed to provide a service only to those who supported their religious beliefs. The owners of Ashers Bakery in Belfast refused to bake a cake for gay activist Gareth Lee because the slogan contradicted their Christian beliefs.

But Belfast’s County Court ruled in May that the bakers had ‘unlawfully discriminated’ against a gay man. The court found that the bakery had breached equality legislation by refusing to bake the cake with the slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage.’

A spokesman for the Scottish Bishops’ Conference said the ‘decision by the Court of Appeal in Belfast against the owners of Ashers Baking Company, represents a blow to freedom of conscience.’

“Equality laws designed to protect people from discrimination, have been used to force people to associate themselves with a cause they oppose,” he said. “Worryingly, this interpretation of the law would see a Jewish printer forced to print posters with swastikas on them for a neo-Nazi customer or a Muslim baker forced to make a cake showing an image of the Prophet Mohammad for a secular customer in flagrant denial of their right to object.”

District Judge Isobel Brownlie said although the Ashers held religious beliefs, they were not above the law and ordered the firm to pay agreed damages of £500. The appeal court upheld the original court’s decision in its ruling today.

After the judgment was delivered, Ashers’ general manager Daniel McArthur spoke outside court of his family’s disappointment.

“We’re extremely disappointed with today’s ruling,” he said. “If equality law means people can be punished for politely refusing to support other people’s causes, then equality law needs to change.This ruling undermines democratic freedom. It undermines religious freedom. It undermines free speech.”

The Christian Institute, which helped pay the Asher’s legal fees, said the law should be changed to protect freedom of conscience.

The institute’s deputy director for public affairs, Simon Calvert said: “Equality laws are there to protect people from discrimination, not to force people to associate themselves with a cause they oppose. But those same laws have become a weapon in the hands of those who want to oppress anyone who dissents from the politically-correct norms of the moment. The law needs to change before more damage is done.”

 

—ian@sconews.co.uk

 

—This story ran in full in the October 28 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.

 

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