Judge rules against Ashers bakery

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A judge has ruled that a Christian-run bakery discriminated against a gay customer by refusing to make a cake with a slogan supporting same-sex marriage.

Ashers Baking Company, based in County Antrim, was taken to court by gay rights activist Gareth Lee.

A Belfast judge said, as a business, Ashers was not exempt from discrimination law.

Damages of £500 were agreed in advance by both legal teams.

The judge said Ashers is “conducting a business for profit”, it is not a religious group.

It was found to have discriminated against Mr Lee on the grounds of sexual orientation as well as his political beliefs.

The judge said she accepted that Ashers has “genuine and deeply held” religious views, but said the business was not above the law.

Ashers said the slogan was against their Christian beliefs.

Speaking outside Belfast County Court ahead of Tuesday’s ruling, Ashers general manager Daniel McArthur said: “We happily serve everyone but we cannot promote a cause that goes against what the Bible says about marriage.

“We have tried to be guided in our actions by our Christian beliefs.”

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister said it was “a dark day for justice and religious freedom in Northern Ireland”.

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