Patrick Stewart dismisses claims he is anti-gay after backing ‘gay cake’ row bakery

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X-Men actor Patrick Stewart has responded to a barrage of criticism, after he declared his support for a Christian bakery that refused to make a ‘support gay marriage’ cake.

Ashers Baking Company – based in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland – last year refused to make a cake showing the message ‘Support Gay Marriage’ above an image of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie.

After the owners of Ashers Bakery in Belfast were last week found guilty of unlawful discrimination, Patrick Stewart spoke about the case on Newsnight, saying he was “on the side of the bakers” and  “supports their rights to say no”.

The actor – a close friend of Stonewall co-founder Sir Ian McKellen – has now addressed his comments in a Facebook post.

He wrote: “As part of my advocacy for Amnesty International, I gave an interview on a number of subjects related to human rights, civil rights and freedom of speech.

“During the interview, I was asked about the Irish bakers who refused to put a message on a cake which supported marriage equality, because of their beliefs.

“In my view, this particular matter was not about discrimination, but rather personal freedoms and what constitutes them, including the freedom to object. Both equality and freedom of speech are fundamental rights— and this case underscores how we need to ensure one isn’t compromised in the pursuit of the other.

“I know many disagree with my sentiments, including the courts. I respect and understand their position, especially in this important climate where the tides of prejudices and inequality are (thankfully) turning.

“What I cannot respect is that some have conflated my position on this single matter to assume I’m anti-equality or that I share the personal beliefs of the bakers. Nothing, absolutely nothing, could be further from the truth.

“I have long championed the rights of the LGBT community, because equality should not only be, as the people of Ireland powerfully showed the world, universally embraced, but treasured.”