Icing added to Gay cake row

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.

From the News Letter:

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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  • Michael-Henry Mcivor

    There is more than one bakery about- if people don’t want the trade don’t give it to them-plenty of others would want the work with no fuss-

  • Bryan Magee

    The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

  • JR

    I have to say I am with the bakery on this one. While I believe they should have baked the cake and it was wrong not to have, I don’t think they should be compelled to do it.

    Aside from the fact that it appears this was a stunt from the start, a trap set by the Gay rights lobby that the bakery were silly enough to walk into, i don’t think the group were discriminated against. Had the bakery said, “you are gay, get out of my shop”. That would have been one thing, however the bakery said the product you request is not one we are willing to provide. A very different thing. No producer should be compelled to produce a product they do not wish to.

    Would it be ok to compell a bakery on the shankhill to produce a cake saying “IRA undefeated army” or a bakery in Derry to produce a cake “we got 14 on bloody sunday” I don’t think so.

  • carl marks

    in this one it should be left to market forces, the village i live in has 2 supermarkets since the petty action of Ashers people voted with their money and both have removed Asher products from their shelves, No need to take these close minded little people to court just dont buy thier cakes!

  • just watching

    how would they react if they found out one of their employees was gay?

  • carl marks

    I wonder do they vet their workforce, are their any others sections of the community they don’t approve of!

  • Dan

    Another commission using public money with little care whether it’s wasted or not.
    If they lose this case, perhaps the costs should be awarded against Wardlow and Morris

  • Gaygael

    Here is a healthy graphic. Can we stop with the faux victimhood of ashers please.
    Here is a map from where the group meets. Guess which bakery is closest?
    And this is the point. LGBT people should not be sitting thinking ‘ oh we can’t go there, they are Xtian’ we should be able to get served anywhere.

    Secondly. Here is an interview with ashers from 2010. Anyone else that ashers was Christian until June? I dispute that businesses are people. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/opinion/big-interview/a-fabulous-baker-boy-28572333.html

    Thirdly, ashers are so Xtian, they pay minimum wage to their staff. Not a living wage but a minimum wage.

    Fourthly, ashers supply their goods to tesco for sale. Tesco, that opens on a Sunday, and donates to london pride. They didn’t pull their products when tesco was supporting pride eh?

    Selective Xtian principles. And the Xtian institue are up to their eyes in this. They tried to unpick employment law through the ladell case. And failed. They tried to unpick goods facilities and services, with the Bulls bnb case. And failed. They are trying again with this.

    I fully imagine they will lose again.

  • Gaygael

    Phot didn’t attach!

  • John Gorman

    A bit of tangent here but out of interest and something that was mentioned on another blog, does anyone have any idea of the copyright law when it comes to cakes? Bakers produce all sorts of goodies with Disney characters etc. Is this allowed? Just wandering especially if this case is going to the courts

  • babyface finlayson

    JR
    I was wondering if it had been done to deliberately test the reaction from Ashers,
    When you say it was a stunt, was there a statement or some evidence for that?

  • Robin Keogh

    People need to get real when it comes to identifying what lies behind homophobic actions. Whether its refusing to bake a cake or kicking the crapout out of a Queen on the street. It is hate, try disguise it anyway you like, it is still hate. The bakery should be made to pay. Big Tme.

  • Reader

    Wow, now there’s a surprisingly liberal and politically engaged village community you’ve got there. I assume they are boycotting all of the local churches for exactly the same reasons?

  • babyface finlayson

    Robin
    It is a great talent to be able to determine peoples motives in all situations.
    As I lack that talent I am assuming that some christians are indeed gay hating but others maybe are not.

  • Robin Keogh

    I never suggested for a second that all christians were gay haters

  • Superfluous

    I think you are undermining your own cause. The argument used to be ‘mind your own business’ – now it’s ‘modify your business’ which is quite a bit more coercive.

  • Surveyor

    I notice that a picture of Bert and Ernie from Sesame St was used on the cake. Strictly speaking those characters would be a trade marked image and unless you have permission from the company involved, retailers would be in breach of copyright laws if they reproduced them.

  • carl marks

    Yep proud of my wee village and glad ti say that attendence at churchs has been droping for a few years now. Seems that people are wising up and even strawman arguments such as yours are getting less attention as time goes by.
    Just put of interest do you haave anything to say on the actual subject or is it all your usual smoke and mirrors?

  • Reader

    On the actual subject:
    (1) I support gay/equal marriage.
    (2) I support the right of churches not to participate.
    (3) I support the right of companies not to produce political materials endorsing a position they do not support.
    In summary then, I am a proper liberal.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Bert and Ernie – now there was some puppet homo-eroticism right there. Wonder if Ashers will do me cake.

  • Gaygael

    I don’t see how you think i am undermining my own case? It is not my case. I think its not a great case and does much to confuse the important principle of non-discrimination.
    Ashers should mind their own business, or be open and honest about who they really are. The don’t advertise with a byline as xtian. In fact the deliberately market themselves as wholesome and hipster. I would love to see a copy of their ‘christian principles’ guidelines.
    It might say – we pay minimum wage, we don’t believe in a living wage despite expanding to a 7th store recently, we are happy to have our products sold by organisations (Such as tesco) which flout many of our christian principles,such as Sunday opening and financial support for pride, and we have a special scrutiny panel for every cake that is ordered through us to ensure that it passes said christian principles?
    No, the scrutiny panel doesn’t exist. I’m sure they bake hordes of wedding cakes. The staff do not ask customers if its their first marriage because a second marriage would be against ashers principles.
    This additional scrutiny is reserved for the gays, and that’s what is discriminatory. A different measure applied on the basis of sexual orientation.

    How many orders do you think get put before a scrutiny panel of their directors? Just the gay ones I imagine. The directors of ashers should mind their own business and and not let it interfere in the operational running of their business. Which operates in a market place that says discimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, facilities and services is unlawful.

  • Gaygael

    Hey JR? Did you see the map and can you please retract your entrapment statement.

  • Gaygael

    please see map below. As an lgbt person, I should be able to go to any of my local shops to place an order.
    Not scour around worrying which s ones may or may not accept my order. Especially ones as duplicitous as Ashers, who have never mentioned their Christianity until now.

  • babyface finlayson

    Robin
    Fair enough, but you did seem to be sure of the motives of Ashers!
    I think they are wrong by the way, but I’m sorry to see something like this going to litigation, when a bit of dialogue might have sorted it out.

  • babyface finlayson

    I wonder if the cake had said
    ‘Congratulations on your second marriage’ or even
    ‘Congratulations on your divorce’
    would they have said no?
    I agree with you it is not a great case. A more blatant act of discrimination would have been clearer.
    Not getting ones cake is the very thin end of the wedge.

  • LordSummerisle

    At the end of the day what will pursuing Asher’s Bakery actually achieve ? Anyway it is time to burn Edward Woodward again.

  • WindsorRocker

    You may well wonder, but if they had refused they would have been within their rights to do so. They have a right as to what products they sell.

  • WindsorRocker

    “Which operates in a market place that says discimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, facilities and services is unlawful.”
    Indeed, and if if Ashers sold a cake to a heterosexual man but refused to sell the exact same cake to a gay man they would be acting illegally, but that’s not what happened here.
    They refused to make a specific order that had a slogan “Support Gay Marriage”. They would not have sold that kind of cake to anyone and therefore are not discriminating in the provision of the goods and services they make.

  • WindsorRocker

    Erm, the bakery has a right to decide what it bakes and doesn’t. You might not like that decision but they have that right. You can’t compare it to hate violence which is aggravated assault.

  • babyface finlayson

    Yes is that not the issue at question. Whether they are within their rights or not?

    But my point was are they consistent in applying their christian principles, in terms of what they produce?

    If for example they had previously made a cake celebrating halloween (considered unchristian by many) then that would be somewhat hypocritical would it not?

  • WindsorRocker

    Christianity is a broad church and many people who are Christians feel uncomfortable with some things but not others. You can’t pigeon hole Christians. Some oppose alcohol, some don’t. Some support gay marriage, some don’t. Ashers are basing their decision on their interpretation of their Christian beliefs.
    So they have the right to assent to product a cake with champagne overflowing but refuse to print a cake logo with gay marriage. The fact that their mix of views doesn’t fit your perception of what a Christian should believe in order to have a valid view on anything, is irrelevant to this debate.
    Ashers’ directors are opposed to gay marriage, they have that right and what their position is on anything else is irrelevant when asserting their right to refuse to make a product containing a message they don’t agree with.

  • babyface finlayson

    I’m not trying to pigeon hole anyone, and I made no statement about what a christian should believe.
    I just gave halloween as an example of something else they might be opposed to. Let’s face it, there are many things that might fit the bill. I think it is safe to assume that Ashers are not opposed to gay marriage but liberal about all other sinful behaviour.
    So to spell it out, I am wondering if they are being a tad hypocritical here. Are all other sinful lifestyles, gluttony sloth general coveting etc a no-no for cake embellishing?
    You keep saying they have the right to refuse to make this product, but that has not yet been clearly established has it. That is what the case is about.

  • alan

    So if i go into a halal takeaway and ask for a sausage and bacon bap i should by right even though pork is a nono in their religion be able to buy it ? fair is fair …is there a difference??