A Christian-owned bakery in Northern Ireland could face government action for refusing to bake a novelty cake featuring Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie and the slogan “support gay marriage.”
Ashers Baking Co., in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, canceled the order, which was to also feature the logo of the gay rights group QueerSpace, saying that producing the cake would be an endorsement of same-sex marriage and violate the owners’ religious convictions.
But the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has now written to the firm claiming that refusing to print the cake as ordered amounted to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, reports the Telegraph UK.
A letter signed by the legal office orders the firm to “remedy your illegal discrimination” within seven days or be taken to court by the commission.
Article continues belowThe Christian institute, supporting the bakery, says it is not discriminatory for managers to refuse to endorse a political campaign.
On Tuesday morning, Andrew Muir, the former Mayor of North Down, revealed that the cake was intended for an anti-homophobia event.
He said after Asher’s Baking Company refused to produce the cake, another bakery stepped in to create it.
Northern Ireland is the only region in the United Kingdom where same-sex marriage has not yet been legalized.
Marriage equality came into effect in England and Wales in March, and will take effect in Scotland in the fall, but it is yet to be introduced to the Northern Irish province.