Ashers Bakery owner: We have not done anything wrong and will not close

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The owner of a bakery today found guilty of discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and political or religious grounds has said “we have not done anything wrong.”

The owners of Ashers Bakery in Belfast were today found guilty of unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation and political or religious grounds.

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

Speaking to the media after the ruling, Daniel McArthur said the bakery would not close, and that despite the ruling, they did not consider that they had done anything wrong.

“We will not be closing down. We have not done anything wrong”, Mr McArthur said.

He said they were “extremely disappointed” with the ruling, and that they had a “problem with the message [on the cake], not with the customer. We’ve always been happy to serve any customers that come into our shops.”

The family are currently considering whether to appeal the ruling, which saw £500 in compensation go to Mr Lee.

Mr Lee declined to speak after the ruling, but his lawyer said he would be donating the money to charity, and that he is delighted with the result of the case.

The lawyer said: “It is difficult being a pathfinder in a discrimination case”.

He did not specify which charity the money would be donated to.

Paul Givan, a DUP member of the Northern Irish Assembly, spoke after the ruling to say that he thought there was huge disappointment in the judgement and that it was an assault on faith.

First Minister Peter Robinson earlier this year lambasted the Equality Commission for spending funds to pursue the case.

In response to the row, the Democratic Unionist Party has introduced a bill that would exempt religious people from equality laws.