Belfast Bakery faces legal action over refusal to bake ‘a gay cake’…

No comment from me, but here’s the Belfast Telegraph article..

Daniel McArthur (24), general manager at Asher’s Baking Company, the Newtownabbey company which has been running since 1992 and employs 62 people, said the firm had been founded by Christians, and the current directors are Christians.

“That means that we run our business according to Christian values and beliefs, according to what the Bible teaches. It means for example that we don’t open on Sundays, that we trade openly and honestly with people,” he said.

Mr McArthur said the company’s name was Biblical – as Asher was one of the 12 tribes of Israel. “It was a tribe that had gifted bakers,” he said.

LGBT activist Gareth Lee had asked for the cake to include a slogan that said ‘support gay marriage’ along with a picture of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street, and the logo of the Queerspace organisation.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where gay marriage has not been legalised.

It will be really interesting to see which way this goes. If the court finds against the bakery it opens a whole range of interesting questions about how far customers can go in demanding specific products.

  • Nardac

    Don’t agree with your last sentence Mick. It would be more accurate to say: “If the court finds against the bakery it will confirm what is already widely known and accepted – that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is illegal.” Your remark about “how far customers can go” is in the same misguided vein as the argument that legalizing gay marriage will open questions about how far people can go in marrying their sisters/animals etc. The widely publicized case of the “Christian” B&B owners did not raise any questions about how far people could go with B&B accommodation – it simply confirmed that it’s illegal to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation.

  • Harry Flashman

    A clear case of felon setting by Queerspace, a disgusting piece of coat trailing.

    Enforced “tolerance” is just another form of bigotry. Private individuals are perfectly entitled to their points of view, if you don’t like the political viewpoint of Asher’s bakery fell free to boycott it, don’t try to impose your views on others, no matter how smug and self-righteous it may make you feel.

  • Mick Fealty

    I know what you’re saying, but they didn’t refuse to serve on the grounds of the customer being gay, and they actually got the cake made somewhere else. There’s a line to be drawn, either way here.

  • Harry Flashman

    This has nothing to do with discriminating against individuals, Queerspace was demanding the baker bake a cake with an overtly political message and the baker, as is his right, refused to do so.

    If I went into a baker in the Ardoyne and asked them to bake a cake with the message “Support the right to march” with the logo of the Orange Order I would be rightly told to sling my hook.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com John Mooney

    I suspect our responses are generational as much as political.
    And I actually feel a degree of sympathy for the Christian bakers.
    Much as I support “equal marriage”, it does seem to me that there is an element of “campaigning” in the message on the cake….and that should make us all just a little uncomfortable.
    Its not as if it was a Barmitzwah (sp), First Communion or Christening Cake.
    That would clearly be discrimatory.
    But can a Catholic Baker object to a Twelfth of July or Coronation cake…or Help for Heroes.

    I dont think businesses should offend customers.
    I dont think customers should offend businesses.
    Is there a case to be made for refusing an order fora “DUP” or “SF.” Motif.
    Its not as if it was Celtic or Rangers or Manchester United themed pastry.
    can there be whole campaigns to sue bakers for refusing to bake a “Pro Life” cake? Or a “Pro Choice” cake?
    But we really need to wise up. This was hardly the reason that the Equality Commission was set up.
    Do bakers have a right to put up a notice that says “we wont bake cakes that might be interpreted as ANY kind of political campaigning.

    Difficult to distance it from B and B rights for gay couples …clearly wrong.
    But is there not a case to be made for a hotel- B and B owner reserving the right not to facilitate unmarried (gay or straight) couples.
    A B and B owner is to an extent opening up a home. many undoubtedly have had a conversation with their gay or straight children about sleeping arrangements for guests.
    Lets not be too unreasonable.

  • Mick Fealty

    A Catholic baker can surely John, the same way a Christian baker can bake a cake with such a message on it. The question is should the law be able to compel them?

  • redstar2011

    John let’s nail this ” opening up a home” point

    It’s not a private house/ home once its being operated as a business.

    I have no sympathy whatsoever for these homophobes

    Bottom line is if we allow discrimination ( which is illegal) whats to stop anyone claiming its against their beliefs to serve customers who are black, yellow, Christian ,Welsh etc

    I would also add that surely ” Christians” are supposed to be welcoming, love their neighbours, extend friendship and courtesy to all- especially those they don’t agree with.

    This neck of the woods would be a better place without many ” Christian” types. One only has to wait until this Saturday to see our most significant ” Christian” organisation display its love for their fellow man….

  • Doug

    Have Good Morning Ulster contacted the Children’s Television Workshop to get Bert & Ernie’s opinions?

  • GEF

    “Mr McArthur said the company’s name was Biblical – as Asher was one of the 12 tribes of Israel. “It was a tribe that had gifted bakers,” he said.”

    Me thinks this bakery has been set up by OTT Gay Right enthusiasts.

  • Ricardo

    If I’ve got the facts correct the bakery, in this case, has the law on their side.
    The cake in question was not destined for a wedding. It was a prop for a polictical campaign.
    And the law says that a business doesn’t have to make things or print banners for political purposes if it chooses not to.
    So a lot of the issues that John Mooney brings up should be covered by the law.

    I completely agree with the anti-discrimination laws. We’re all in society together. Asher bakers receive a lot of benefit from the taxes gay people pay. You can’t accept someone’s contribution but refuse to accept them.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com John Mooney

    Yes Mick…I know several good Catholic bakers.
    And no I dont think the Law should compel them.
    We could have a great summer if we all went on trains all over Norn Iron …going into Printers and asking …indeed demanding that our campaign leaflets be printed.
    I think the liberals (and usually I am one)arebeing a bit precious on this one.
    The same liberals would be supporting a Printer who refused to print the leaflet that circulated in East Belfast two years ago.
    Why get all irritated just cos we broadly support the “cause”

  • Pete Baker

    GEF

    “Me thinks this bakery has been set up by OTT Gay Right enthusiasts.”

    The Alliance Party, apparently…

    Alliance councillor Andrew Muir said the cake was to be produced for an Anti-Homophobia Day event which he hosted while mayor of North Down.

    He said another bakery in Bangor ended up making the cake, and added that he supports the action being taken against Ashers Bakery.

    “Businesses should not be able to pick and choose who they serve,” said Mr Muir.

    “There would not be any debate if the cake had depicted an anti-racism or anti-ageism slogan, nor should it require intervention from the Equality Commission for this cake for Anti-Homophobia Day.

    “We were able to ensure that this event went ahead despite the actions of Ashers Bakery and enjoyed a great afternoon celebrating the vibrant diversity Northern Ireland enjoys.”

    But they don’t do irony, as Padraig Reidy points out here

    Earlier this year, I was in Belfast to discuss a controversy over the banning of a “blasphemous” comedy adaptation of the Bible (coincidentally in Ashers’ Newtownabbey home). The producers of the Stephen Nolan TV debate programme sat me next to a young Christian, who consistently tried to pull the conversation away from the play and towards gay marriage. He was genuinely angry, and at one point I found myself trying to reassure him that no one was going to force him to marry a man. And he received considerably more backing from the studio audience than I did.

    And at the moment, even if he wanted to, he couldn’t, as same-sex marriage is still illegal in Northern Ireland. Which is what makes the Ashers’ case so odd. The bakery is being pursued for not putting a pro-gay marriage slogan on a cake, even while the government prohibits actual gay marriage. [added emphasis]

    Further, there seems little evidence that Mr Lee was denied a service because of who he is, rather than because of the message he requested on the cake.

    Ashers seem well within their rights here; I don’t think anyone would force a printer to print fliers with a message they found abhorrent and against their beliefs, so why should cake decoration be different?

    Indeed.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com John Mooney

    Redstar,
    The best B&Bs I have been in are those best described as “homely”. Indeed it might even be a selling point.
    The family run B&B is the norm.
    No doubt 40 years ago, a family run business might have had a dilemna about an unmarried couple on a dirty weekend. They have no such reservations in 2014.
    Likewise 20 years ago, there might have been a dilemna about a gay couple. Now happily there isnt.
    The battles have been won.
    In the handful of cases where it isnt, then I dont think we should get all irritated.
    Why bring alcohol into a Temperance Hotel?
    A wee bit of tolerance all round would be a good thing.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com John Mooney

    To be honest I thought that a local political party would be backing local businesses.
    I am currently on a train returning from Bangor.
    I had a nice pavola and a pot of tea in a tea shop. (£4.60).

  • Big Island Exile

    It will be interesting which way this one goes. The B&B case was obviously wrong, clear direct discrimination. This is a bit more nuanced. They are probably within their rights to refuse because they were asked to add a political message. If they refuse all such requests for that service they are safe. But if some mischievous soul asked them to create a birthday cake with “Happy Birthday Timmy from Daddy and his boyfriend” on it, what would they do? That’s not promoting marriage equality.

    In any case, if it goes against them, then as Christians they must abide by what the bible says. Peter 2:13 “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme.”

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Personally I think they should have made the cake which I don’t feel would have compromised their own beliefs.

    One point, as gay marriage is against the law in NI, surely the bakery were only acting within the law?

  • redstar2011

    Joe they weren’t asking the bakery to marry them- just make a friggin cake!!!!

  • Joe_Hoggs

    redstar2011,

    They were asking them to input a statemnt that is illegal is NI. What if the statement was “Murder is Good”?

  • redstar2011

    The statement they were asking for isn’t illegal!!!!

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Is Gay Marriage legal in NI?

  • redstar2011

    Joe- read this slowly. The STATEMENT wouldn’t be illegal

    Drugs are illegal Joe but its perfectly ok to ask for a cake with “legalise cannabis” or even “I love cannabis ” on it

    Ones just a statement Joe, the others an action. Give me strength

  • Joe_Hoggs

    redstar2011,

    The bakery could easliy argue that they’re just acting inside the boundary of the law by not supporting illegal causes.

    I think the cake should have been made but I’m looking at both sides of the argument.

  • Jagdip

    The TUV has spoken

    ” The reality is that there are none so intolerant as those who shout loudest about toleration.”
    http://tuv.org.uk/cake-row-exposes-where-real-intolerance-is-coming-from/

    The OO must be furious!

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Jagdip,

    You could have quoted this,

    “It seems there is tolerance for all – except those with Christian beliefs”.

  • Explorer

    Surely they have the final say over what they can and can’t put on the cakes they bake. They aren’t refusing to serve the person because they are gay but because they don’t agree with the message they were asked to put on the cake.

    They have stated elsewhere that they have previously refused to make cakes with offensive or sexual language on them – surely that is their prerogative?

  • Jagdip

    @Joe, true, I could, but there is endless humour to be mined from TUV press statements, my favorite so far this year was the TUV opposing the

    “oxymoron of sex marriage in Northern Ireland”

    I see they have finally updated the press statement to “same sex marriage” but at the time, I thought I had found the true reason for the decline in the LUPO population!
    http://tuv.org.uk/same-sex-marriage-isnt-an-equality-issue/

  • quality

    I understand that animals and even some plants can be gay. A gay cake is a first for me though.

  • Dec

    The issue for anyone citing the Biblical law as a valid reason for not doing a certain thing is that it leaves them open to the charge of being spectacularly full of shit, doubly so for Christian bakers flogging sausage rolls:

    ‘And the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.’

    Leviticus 11 7:8

  • son of sam

    To paraphrase from Casablanca “Of all the bakeries,in all the towns, in all the world, they walk into mine”!Sounds like a well worked strategy from L G B T!

  • Jagdip

    “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”
    Exodus 20:2-6

    I suppose Ushers’s trade in angel cakes (and for unrelated reasons, fairy cakes) will come to an abrupt end, now that their Biblical credentials have been nailed to the post.

  • sergiogiorgio

    You sod Jagdip – you got the fairy cake joke in just ahead of me.

    The bakery folks seem like a decent sort. I reckon a bit of live and let live and keep the bloody lawyers as far away from it as possible – leaches!

  • Comrade Stalin

    MYtwocents,

    A comment par for the course for your good self. Gay people are very far from protected. Homophobic assaults happen – there was a fairly serious one a couple of weeks back AFAIR .. and there’s a whole world of problems gay people have to deal with especially when it comes to their family and friends.

    Asher’s claim that this is because they are a Christian/bible-centric business but some wits have already exposed the hypocrisy given Leviticus’ prohibition on eating the pork they sell in their apparently very nice sausage rolls. Nah, this is just plain old homophobia with the bible being used as an excuse.

    As for whether or not this is legal, we’ll see.

  • Mick Fealty

    Dec, that’s a Yellow for you me boy (just imagine you have one)!! you can surely make your point without resorting to coarse language? Or maybe not… :-/

  • Dec

    Jeez, harsh. Kenneth Tynan would be spinning in his grave.

  • MYtwocents

    is this thread receiving more scrutiny from mods than others, protection!.

  • babyface finlayson

    Any group should think and choose their battles. This does not seem to me like one the gay community should have got into.
    Yes it is clearly exposing the inherent homophobia in fundamentalist religion here,but we all knew that already.
    Perhaps it would have been kinder to say ‘your intolerance is deeply unchristian’ and take their business elsewhere.
    It is possible to be right but still lose the argument.
    As for Ashers…nice buns.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    What’s the point in forcing a bakery to do something they’re not comfortable with?

    As SoS alluded to, did the bakery refuse service outright or did they refuse to print just the political image?

    Refusing to serve them because they are gay is not the same as refusing to acquiesce in the production of politically motivated material and that difference should be noted.

    I have a great deal of sympathy for the gay community of NI as they are besieged by intolerance but this is unwarranted.

    They shouldn’t be forcing people to do their bidding.

    ————————————————

    To repeat Harry’s statement:

    “This has nothing to do with discriminating against individuals, Queerspace was demanding the baker bake a cake with an overtly political message and the baker, as is his right, refused to do so.

    If I went into a baker in the Ardoyne and asked them to bake a cake with the message “Support the right to march” with the logo of the Orange Order I would be rightly told to sling my hook.

  • MYtwocents

    carefull am, you’ll get the hook.

  • Zeno

    ” We’re all in society together. Asher bakers receive a lot of benefit from the taxes gay people pay.”

    Ricardo

    Really? How so?

  • Jagdip

    How many gay people does Ashers employ?

    With a workforce of 60 and applying the proportionate norms that apply across the globe, between 1-4 would be expected to be gay.

    How do the Christian directors reflect their beliefs in their employment policies? I realise there is a difference between supporting gay rights and supporting gay marriage specifically, but still, once you nail your Biblical credentials to the mast, this is the questioning you expose yourself to.

  • Jagdip

    @Cynic2, aye we do like our religious imagery in the Catholic church that is true, but Church of Ireland churches appear to be similarly adorned. Not so, Presbyterian churches which have a more spartan feel to them. All three churches seem to perform a similar function though.

    But if Prebyterians are really going to live the word of the Bible, they would have to avoid pork, would they not? Perhaps time for them to graduate to a more Biblical-compliant religion, in that regard. How about Islam? That would have the added advantage of spurning the daemon drink, which would make a lot of OO parades more tolerable to the residents whose neighbourhoods you parade through.

  • babyface finlayson

    Jagdip
    “How many gay people does Ashers employ?”
    As no employee would be obliged to declare their sexual orientation, how would you hope to get an answer to that question?

  • abucs

    As Chesterton said, ‘once you give up God, the state becomes your God’

    and a replacement God needs a replacement theology which has turned out to be anti-discrimination laws.

    I don’t think such laws are coherently sustainable in the longer term.

    In the US now with the court deciding against the freedom of businesses to act in accordance with their conscience, such gay lobby protagonists are being told by businesses that any profit made on baked gay cakes will be donated to the ‘traditional marriage’ campaign.

    There are also disclaimers on the packaging saying that the company in no way agrees with the content of the message produced but is forced to create such products under threat of legal action.

    Using the state as an authoritarian bully to underwrite a replacement theology necessarily creates division, whether with Christians or with other groups on a range of matters. In the end it destroys respect and identification with the state.

    We’ve been down this road before when you try to make the state your God. It doesn’t end well.

  • Pete Rock

    I’m fully supportive of the Gay Marriage cause but on this occasion I don’t think anyone should be forced to produce something displaying a message that flies in the face of their beliefs.

  • nilehenri

    good to see all the usual suspects getting googly-eyed over the subject, which is merely yet another example of are parochial wee cuntry and how things work up here.
    some born-again baker doesn’t have the right to decide what goes on the cake, should that be the case anyone with an irish name or surname in a predominantly unionist region can (potentially) say good-bye to their annual birthday treat.
    harry flashman obviously doesnt realise that the argument in his first comment:

    “Enforced “tolerance” is just another form of bigotry. Private individuals are perfectly entitled to their points of view, if you don’t like the political viewpoint of Asher’s bakery fell free to boycott it, don’t try to impose your views on others, no matter how smug and self-righteous it may make you feel.”

    can equally be applied to the bakers. the bakers are part of a supply chain, and they have responsibility which goes over and above their personal beliefs. someone could just as easily take offence at the name of the bakers, and it’s religious origin. and yes, they would bake your cake for you on the falls. they would bust their hoops laughing at you when you order it, and someone might spit in the icing, but they would make it for you all the same. ‘we’ are not as wired up as ‘you lot’ when it comes to this type of thing. similarly, john mooney:

    “Its not as if it was a Barmitzwah (sp), First Communion or Christening Cake.”

    actually it is, or rather would be were it not for the overt discrimination so openly on display here in the north. the pastor’s infamous spech referenced homosexuality in terms equally as vile as those he used to describe the muslim community yet there was nary a peep about the queers. [Moderated to remove potential defamation] need i go on? when you say that we should hold the printers to account, i would think that that’s a bit too anti-free speech for most people.
    mick you talk about the law ‘compelling’ people. i think that that’s a lazy interperetation. law exists as a reference and from then on we’re on our own, we must interpret it according to our common sense, and good judgement. and in this case, the baker was way off in his moral quandary.
    redstar2011 to say ‘support gay marriage’ is not illegal. anywhere.
    if timothy gaston (http://tuv.org.uk/same-sex-marriage-isnt-an-equality-issue/) is so concerned about wasteful public spending then he should go speak to his orange chums about the boisterous nature of their followers and supporters. i am more concerned than outraged that the equality commission had to intervene in this case. what does that say about the state of equality relations in the north?
    the sexuality of the purchaser has nothing to do with the case, and to suggest otherwise is in itself a form of victimisation. it’s these small daily attacks that coalesce and mass into the huge division and mess that we have to deal with in our society up here in narn irn.
    i hope this case serves to arm-twist some of our more solid headed public figures into a more accomodating position.
    rant over. i think the case if it goes ahead will probably fail because of the intended use of bert and ernie more than anything else.

  • Ricardo

    Hi Zeno,

    I said ” We’re all in society together. Asher bakers receive a lot of benefit from the taxes gay people pay.”

    And you said: “Really? How so?”

    I thought that would have been so obvious that it seems petty to list them. But here’s few examples:
    We all pay towards a police force that keeps law and order to a certain level that we feel comfortable shopping. And shops feel fairly secure they won’t get robbed.
    We all pay towards street lighting that makes Asher’s customers feel safer going there after dark.
    We all pay for the roads that allow their supplies and products to be delivered.
    If any of their employees fall sick we all pay for the NHS to make them better.
    Asher’s don’t have to train their staff to read and write as, thanks to a publicly funded state education, that’s been done for them.
    And gay people probably shop in the local greengrocers who, in turn, can take that money and buy his lunch from Asher’s.

    It all goes round and round.

    Society is so interconnected you can’t cut bits off that you don’t want. (Well you can – you can elect a government with a mandate to imprison or execute gay people. This is one method of removing them from society used by several countries).

    None of these reasons are obscure. I thought the words ‘contribution’, ‘society’ and ‘together’ would have have helped make my point.
    If you thought I meant something different please let me know.

  • http://www.oldfaith.wordpress.com truthfinder

    Ricardo

    That is a fallacious argument that ends up in a hole you will never get out off. Polygamists pay taxes as do terrorists (a minority anyway) but it doesn’t equate to rights to force their beliefs on others.

    The word “equality” is bandied about as it there was some universal definition that we all have missed these years (in fact,I would like to know where it actually comes from?). Is the Gay Pride parade unequal because it doesn’t represent the views of heterosexuals? Does St Mary College breach equality status as it doesn’t provide for a Protestant or an Atheist ethos to be taught alongside the Catholic one?

    Marriage is defined by the Christian values that our State was built on. The UK is still a Christian country with HMQ as Head of State and Defender of the Protestant Faith. The Gay circus using terms like “marriage equality” is just a freak show that has no historical or objective basis in fact or logic. They can call it “marriage” but it is not marriage anymore than the Mormon chap calling his three wives a marriage or the lunatic that wants to marry his horse. When the UK wakes up from the immature social experiment it has embarked on to placate the “homophiles” and “Christophobes” it cannot come soon enough!

    We butcher millions of babies in the womb, our youths regularly embark on debauchery every drunken weekend (Magaluf is just a typical example), the streets of most towns and cities are so crime ridden that a grown man dare not appear alone at night, and we have the gay circus parading their freak shows under the pretext that this is somehow related to “equality”. We really have progressed since the Victorians! As Chesterton stated, “civilisation is a good idea – we should try it sometime.”

  • jh25769

    I was the bakers belief being forced upon the customer. When I buy a cake I don’t want theology shoved down my throat. Why should anyone else?

    If a muslim bookshop owner refused to stock Bibles because it was unislamic I could imagine the outcry.

    It’s a cake, not anal penetration.

  • Explorer

    I see the whole Christians eating/selling pork argument has come up again – it’s an argument which is fundamentally flawed. The prohibition against eating pork (as well as a number of other forbidden practices) was part of the Mosaic or ceremonial law outlined primarily in the book of Leviticus. This was a law for a particular people and was abolished as part of the new covenant – Acts 10:12-15 is useful in determining this but there are a number of other texts. Hebrews, for example, explains that Christ made the Law of Moses obsolete and replaced it with this new covenant.

    Of course the argument is sometimes not helped by Christians who misunderstand this and use Leviticus to back up their arguments on other matters.

    You might think the whole thing is mumbo jumbo but through an understanding of the overall bible and not just picking out verses here and there it will show that there is no inconsistency in Christians eating pork/shellfish etc as they are no longer under the laws that govern this.

  • Dec

    If only I had a fiver for every time SSM was discussed, a fundamental Christian introduced zoophilia to the debate.

  • Zeno

    “I thought that would have been so obvious that it seems petty to list them”
    Ricardo.

    I actually thought that Ashers were in some way directly State Funded from your comment. But since they are apparently not we could say that they receive less than some businesses who are. The ” Asher bakers receive a lot of benefit from the taxes gay people pay” statement, doesn’t stack.
    All successful businesses who don’t receive direct funding from government are net contributors to the state and pay in more than they get out. You could say that these businesses fund the rights of all people including the gay community.

  • Big Island Exile

    Explorer

    I will see your Acts and raise you Mark 5:17-5:19

    5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

    5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

    5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    I think the inconsistency is in the bible itself.

  • Dec

    If I went into a baker in the Ardoyne and asked them to bake a cake with the message “Support the right to march” with the logo of the Orange Order I would be rightly told to sling my hook.

    Exactly, because no nationalist ever has been involved in production of Unionist election literature, nor vice versa. Nor should we ever expect a nationalist PSNI officer to investigate an attack on an Orange Hall nor a unionist cop to investigate an attack on a GAA hall in case of offending them and their beliefs. The notion that we should treat people and customers equally when they make a reasonable request without having to endorse their every belief is obviously crazy talk.

  • Von Manstein

    I can only imagine the grievous suffering inflicted on the professional gay rights ‘pressure group’ employee by Asher’s refusal to provide a product endorsing his political opinions. I do think that seeking redress through the full weight of the state bearing down on a family business and putting the family on public and media trial for their opinions is a measured response to the prevailing racist and homophobic attitudes latent but ubiquitous in today’s society. Discrimination on the grounds of holding diverse opinions should not be tolerated in our celebration of homogeneity, and deviants ought to be hunted, entrapped, persecuted, and punished until they make the requisite televised appearance recanting their views, and compensate the victim to symbolise their rehabilitation according to our ruthlessly enforced orthodoxies. I can only praise the outspoken advocates for non-discrimination, equality, and diversity – Tatchell, Boyd etc who I heard on broadcasts – uniformity of message whereby they alleged that the decision to refuse service was based on the bedroom preferences of the customer, rather than an objection to the design specifications of the product ordered. I can only assume that such shared opinions on the cause of action bear testament to the onerous burden under which our protected minorities labour on a daily basis and naked hatred to which they are exposed, most recently evidenced by this refusal to bake a cake.

  • Von Manstein

    I retract. Research has since discovered that Mr. Lee is not a professional gay rights ‘pressure group’ employee. Hatefinding and Witchhunting must be hobbies or a community service of sorts; recipient of the august and coveted ‘Queer of the Decade’ award. I just wanted to rectify my error in this regard and apologise for any misunderstanding. Thank you.

  • hugodecat

    For me, this is a weak case to be blown up quite as much as it has been, there are issues about whether the refusal was a political point or homophobia, however they did initially accept the order and take the money and then cancelled it, that smells of homophobia. comparing a gay rights slogan to profanity and pronography has a decided wiff of homophobia too.
    In addition I had always taken Asher’s “have whatever you want ” slogan at face value, particularly as the bit about being a Christian bakery with a specific set of values has not been something they have felt the need to publicise until this case popped up. Aligning themselves with the Christian Institute who have been running a social media campaign asking for opinions and deleting all the dissenting ones doesn’t really help matters either.
    I for one don’t want to see the bakery prosecuted, but I also won’t be giving them my custom. for me there are two issues . Religious belief has no place on the high street and secondly companies that have a hidden or “secret until you fall foul of it” values system don’t get my business. do we really want to go back to the days of English businesses with “no blacks, no Irish” signs on the door?

  • Big Yellow Crane

    “I am totally in favour of full gay equality – the works – but if I walk into a bakery on the Falls Road and demand a cake iced in red white and blue am I being discriminated against or committing a public order offence?”

    That’s a good question which is why we should thank QueerSpace for raising it.

    What if you tried to buy your Prod Cake on Royal Avenue and were told to sling your hook? Would that be worse/actionable? We can refer to our local demographic map on Orange/Green matters – if we’re from here. What map are gay people supposed to use?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Question is, were they mischief making in the first place by approaching an openly Christian baking firm?

  • hugodecat

    That would involve them having some insider knowledge that Ashers isn’t just a bakery but an unlabeled “Christian Bakery” rather than the one around the corner from the LGBT centre

  • Big Yellow Crane

    “Question is, were they mischief making in the first place by approaching an openly Christian baking firm?”

    They could well have been Joe but if the aim is to test the application of the 2007 Act they needed a real case and it’s good to see that Asher’s got their own PR assistance rather than just caving. I hope any legal costs are underwritten by the lobbyists and if Asher’s are found to have discriminated it would be unjust if anything other than a token compensation payment is ordered given the ambiguities.

    I’d like to know what reference the legal officer at the Equality Commission was using – she seems very certain that this is discrimination even though a lot of reasonable people obviously aren’t convinced.

  • Annie AuldIrn

    When did Ashers come out as Christian, Joe? I haven’t found any reference to their beliefs in the on-line publicity material.

  • Aaron Aababab

    I can’t believe people are on here defending the bigoted bakery

  • babyface finlayson

    I would have thought a firm like Ashers could have sub contracted orders like this to another baker.There must be plenty of small concerns would have been happy to do it, and avoid such problems.
    The number of contentious cakes (not a phrase you hear often) must be very small, though they have now invited any number of mischievious orders at their counters.
    I still feel prosecuting this case was a bad idea as it feels petty and unnecessary.

  • Ricardo

    Hi Zeno.
    (Sorry for the late reply – trouble with the new system).
    After I sent my post I thought, ‘I bet some people will read benefit as meaning government subsidy’. Sorry for not being clear. Just shows how much we’ve substituted the real meaning of benefit for the social security
    one.

    But I entirely agree with you. Any business that pays tax
    will be funding the government. Who will, in turn, fund the whole range of things. But this actually helps my argument as I keep making the point that everything is inter-connected.

    You used the term ‘direct funding’ from the state. My list was to illustrate all the indirect funding people overlook – probably because we all share them – which may make people think they aren’t benefits (like a subsidy).

    But to move from discrimination to economics the only businesses that are net contributors to the state are those that export more than they import. Services – such as bakeries, window cleaners, barbers etc… all help the money circulate throughout the state as it passes from hand to hand and the government creams off a tax at every stage (tell me about it).

    This again just keeps reinforcing how dependant we are on each other. My
    primary belief is that you can’t cherry pick only the bits of this society you want and then turn your back on the rest. The financial bit isn’t really the argument. I could have perhaps said ‘How would Asher’s manager feel if he had a (hypothetical) life-saving operation performed by a gay surgeon? Only to turn round and say they don’t want to serve gay people?’ And there are dozens of examples – but that would require making lists of ancedotes rather than making a point. You’ll know what I’m getting at.

  • Ricardo

    Truthfinder.

    Your comment made my blood boil. Did you just equate gay people with terrorists? You managed to get Polygamists in there. Why didn’t you stop short at paedophiles? Lots of other christians don’t mind conflating the two. My argument is not fallacious and I haven’t dug myself into a hole. Simply because I treat terrorists for what they do, and gay people for who they are. Read that again. The words may be small but the implication is big. The two are not the same nor do they come from the same root nor do they have the same reasons for existing.

    The word equality is not ‘bandied’ about. Nor is it trendy. Nor is it an experiment. It is taken very seriously – especially by those who don’t have it. The world is not divided into two groups of beings: classed human and subhuman. We are all human. You do not decide, with any excuse, that some people are less entitled to the benefits of humanity than the majority. That’s all that equality is. No more no less. If you believe that this is being forced onto you I have no answer for that as I don’t know you. But rest assured it will not end in some medieval apocalypse where people turn on each other and start marrying horses.

    Discrimination is wrong. Inequality is wrong. And no amount of personal choice over religious beliefs can make it right. You only have to turn on the News to understand that. If you, as a christian, feel you are being discriminated against because you want to be allowed to practice and acceptable level of intolerance then, sorry, no.

  • Ricardo

    The post of mine above had a lot of personal references to Truthfinder. I took a lot of Truthfinder’s comments on a personal level as insults and re-acted in kind. Not the way to go. I don’t want this to descend into personal attacks. Sorry about that

  • carl marks

    Pity about
    this, there stuff isn’t bad, but there are plenty of other bakers whose stuff isn’t
    bad either guess I’ll spend my money on them.

    I wonder how
    many people who either are Gay or know and love someone who is gay are thinking
    like me.

    By the way
    does anybody known what days the bakery works, Just wondering have they ever
    worked on a Sunday, have they ever baked a cake for a divorced couple getting
    married what would be the line on this ?

  • carl marks

    Got my vote!

  • Annie AuldIrn

    Almost certain they work on Sunday. If they didn’t do a night shift on Sunday night the shelves would be either empty or filled with stale buns on Monday

  • carl marks

    Bit of a oul problem that, what with the Sabbath and all.
    but im sure some good Christain will come on and explain it!

  • Ricardo

    Hi Harry,

    Can you please explain ‘enforced tolerance’. It’s a term that appears a lot, but I don’t get it.
    Does it mean there is an acceptable level of intolerance that should be allowed?