A Christian-owned bakery in Northern Ireland that earlier this year refused to make a cake for a local gay rights organization’s event, has been ordered to apologize and pay compensation or face legal action.
In July, Ashers Baking Co., in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, refused to bake a novelty cake featuring Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie and the slogan “support gay marriage,” as requested by the gay rights group QueerSpace.
The bakery’s owners said that producing the cake would be an endorsement of same-sex marriage and violate their religious convictions.
The Telegraph reports that the Equality Commission wrote to the bakery insisting that the refusal amounted to discrimination against the customer, Gareth Lee, who wanted the cake for an event to mark International Day Against Homophobia.
Amid widespread media attention and even questions in Parliament over the case, the Commission sought further legal advice to clarify its position.
Article continues belowIn a new, 16-page letter, the Commission said it was “now clear” that the decision not to bake the Bert and Ernie cake was a breach of equality laws and that it must back down and compensate Lee for his hurt feelings or face legal action.
Simon Calvert, deputy director of the Christian Institute, which is supporting the bakery, said: “It is simply baffling for a body supposedly working for equality to be threatening a Christian family with legal action, all because of a cake.”
But the family-run bakery said it was ready for a “David and Goliath battle” over the cake, insisting it was “what God would want us to do.”
Northern Ireland remains the only part of the U.K. where same-sex marriage is not legal.