Catholic priest ‘withdrawing’ support for gay community over lawsuit against anti-gay bakery

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A priest has said he is to withdraw his engagement from groups within the gay community over the recent lawsuit of a bakery that refused to bake a “gay marriage” cake.

In July, Asher’s Baking Company – based in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland – refused the request of a gay rights activist for a cake showing the message ‘Support Gay Marriage’ above an image of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie.

The Commission later found that this act broke anti-discrimination laws, and called for the bakery to apologise, but its manager vowed to instead “make a stand”.

This week, the Commission warned in a 16-page legal letter that the bakery will face legal action if it does not settle the case soon.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, Father Tim Bartlett, who was on the panel for this year’s Belfast Pride, said: “I will be writing today to those groups from the gay community… with whom I have had a very constructive and ongoing engagement in recent years.

“I am withdrawing my engagement until the right of all people, in this case Christians, to freedom of conscience is vindicated and respected by the Equality Commission and the gay community.”

John O’Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project, has criticised the priest’s stance, saying: “I think it’s very disappointing; I think rather than being a reason to stop conversations, it further indicates the needs for conversation.”