We regret to inform you that the homophobic bakeries are at it again. But this time, they have the support of the highest court in the UK.
After numerous court rulings and appeals, the UK Supreme Court today ruled that a bakery run by Evangelical Christians was legally allowed to refuse to bake a pro-gay marriage cake, back in 2014.
According to the Guardian, Ashers Bakery in Belfast declined to bake a cake with the words “Support Gay Marriage” printed on it in icing. The request was made by Gareth Lee, a gay man and campaigner for gay marriage in Ireland.
At the time, both Belfast County Court and the Court of Appeal found that refusing to make the cake was discriminatory towards Lee, giving the bakery a fine of £500.
However, the five justices on the Supreme Court today overturned that ruling, on the grounds that it breached the right to freedom of expression by forcing the bakery owners to hold or express a political opinion which they disagree. Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Hodge, and Lady Black all said that in this case, a service (i.e. the cake) had not been denied because of a person’s sexual orientation or religious faith.
“It is deeply humiliating, and an affront to human dignity, to deny someone a service because of that person’s race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or any of the other protected personal characteristics,” Lady Hale said in the judgment. “But that is not what happened in this case.”
She continued: “This court has held that ‘nobody should be forced to have or express a political opinion in which he [or she] does not believe.’ The bakers could not refuse to supply their goods to Mr. Lee because he was a gay man or supported gay marriage but that is quite different from obliging them to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed.”
The BBC reports that the four-and-a-half-year battle has cost £200,000 in legal fees for the bakery and £250,000 in legal fees for the Equality Commission.
Incredibly, this is not the first time that the Christian baking community and the gay community have clashed. A landmark case in the US in 2012 followed a similar journey, when a gay couple was denied a cake by a bakery in Colorado. This year, the US Supreme Court ruled that it was not discriminatory to deny the couple the cake on the grounds they were gay (????????).
Bakers gonna bake, I guess.