The saga of Asher’s bakery and the “gay cake row” continues. The Equality Commission has apparently sent a letter to Asher’s last week threatening legal action for discrimination on the grounds of discrimination over political beliefs which seems somewhat different from the original threats of legal action on the grounds of sexual orientation discrimination.
General manager of the bakers Daniel McArthur said he had now received a letter from the commission claiming his stance breached legislation.
He said the letter told the company if it did not offer compensation within seven days it would face litigation.
Mr McArthur said his family would not be forced to promote a cause that goes against their conscientious view that marriage is between a man and a woman.
“We feel that the Equality Commission are pursuing us because of our beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said.
“It feels like a David and Goliath battle because on one hand we have the Equality Commission who are a public body, they’re funded by taxpayers’ money, they have massive resources at their disposal whereas we are a small family business and we have limited resources at our disposal.
“We’re continuing to hold to the stand that we took originally because we believe it’s biblical, we believe it’s what God would want us to do, and we also think that if we do cave in to the Equality Commission at this point it’ll put pressure on other citizens who are defending their view of traditional marriage.
“We don’t want to be forced to promote a cause which is against our biblical beliefs. We’ve had a lot of support from people who disagree with our stance on same-sex marriage. They think that we should have the freedom to decline an order that conflicts with our conscience.”
Simon Calvert, spokesman for the Christian Institute, which is supporting the McArthur family, 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.
“The Equality Commission has taken four months to dream up new grounds on which to pursue the McArthur family, claiming that they’ve breached political discrimination laws.
“If supporting same-sex marriage is a protected political opinion, so is supporting traditional marriage. Yet the Commission clearly favours one view over another and is prepared to litigate to prove it.
“Is the Commission seriously saying that all business owners have to be willing to promote every political cause or campaign, no matter how much they disagree with it? Does a printer have no right to refuse to print posters for the BNP or Islamic State?
“The Commission is throwing the kitchen sink at this case, and is wasting tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money in the process.
“I doubt that many people in Northern Ireland will think this is a good use of their hard-earned tax money. I hope they will make their views known to the Commission.”
The decision to pursue Asher’s has been condemned by church leaders and various politicians.
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