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Ashers ‘gay cake’ case referred to European court: But substance of ruling not expected to be overturned

October 2019

Gareth Lee
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The gay rights activist who dragged a Christian bakery through the courts in Northern Ireland has now decided to take his case to Europe.

Gareth Lee eventually lost his case at the UK Supreme Court last year, when judges ruled Ashers bakery had not discriminated against him.

He had asked the Christian bakery to provide him with a cake iced with the slogan, ‘back gay marriage’, and then sued the owners when they declined the order.

But in a landmark ruling last year judges at the UK Supreme Court said people and businesses cannot be compelled to say things they disagree with.

Now Gareth Lee has decided to appeal against the ruling at the European Court of Human Rights, but without the backing of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

His case is no longer against the owners of the bakery, it is against the United Kingdom, and therefore it is the UK government that must defend it.

Also, the central finding of the UK Supreme Court – which gives protection from compelled speech – is not expected to be overturned.

The Christian Institute funded the Ashers’ legal defence throughout the domestic court process.

According to the Institute, ‘It would appear Mr Lee wants the European Court of Human Rights to consider narrow aspects of the ruling.

‘Such a legal process could take years and may not result in judges hearing the case.

‘From what we know so far, we do not believe there is a real danger of the substance of the judgment being overturned’.

Mike Judge, editor