N. Ireland Baker Who Refused to Make Pro-Gay Cake Found Guilty of Discrimination
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DUBLIN (AP) — A Northern Ireland bakery was found guilty Tuesday of discrimination for refusing to make a cake bearing the slogan “Support Gay Marriage,” a verdict welcomed by human rights activists but denounced by Christian conservatives in the British territory.
In her ruling, Belfast Judge Isobel Brownlie called the bakery’s cancellation of the order “direct discrimination for which there can be no justification.” The judge said the bakery was a business, not a religious organization, and therefore had no legal basis to reject an order based on a customer’s sexual orientation or beliefs.
She said the bakers knew the customer, Gareth Lee, was gay and they would have provided him a cake bearing a message that supported traditional heterosexual marriage.
The judge ordered the family-run Ashers Bakery to pay Lee 500 pounds ($775) and legal costs, which have run into the tens of thousands.
Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission pursued the lawsuit on behalf of Lee, who had ordered the cake for a gay rights event. Same-sex marriages were legalized last year in the rest of the United Kingdom but remain unrecognized in Northern Ireland.