Northern Ireland’s Attorney General: Bakers should be free to reject ‘gay’ cakes

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Northern Ireland’s Attorney General has spoken out to defend a Christian bakery that wouldn’t bake a cake referencing gay marriage.

The owners of Ashers Bakery in Belfast were found guilty of unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation and political or religious grounds, after the company in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland refused to bake a cake showing the message ‘Support Gay Marriage’ above an image of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie.

Despite losing its initial case, this week Belfast’s High Court is hearing their appeal – after the bakery got financial and legal help from the anti-LGBT Christian Institute.

Lawyers for the bakers claimed in court that they had a right to refuse the cake because God considers it a “sin” to make cakes with pro-gay messages on – and because they weren’t discriminating against the customer, just the message.

The country’s Attorney General today weighed in on the issue, comparing it to a cake that reads ‘There is no God’ or ‘Christianity is a lie’.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, John Larkin QC insisted: “There are very large questions about the role of conscience in all sorts of business.”

“I say very clearly, if it was a case where Mr Lee had been refused some of Ashers’ excellent chocolate eclairs because he way gay or perceived to be gay, I would be standing on the other side of the court.

“But it’s not about that, it’s about expression and whether it’s lawful under Northern Ireland constitutional law for Ashers to be forced… to articulate or express or say a political message which is at variance with their political views and in particular their religious views.”

Despite his claim that he would be on the other side of the issue if it was denying service to a gay person, Larkin confirmed exactly the opposite in 2014, when he said: “Some boor who for his own obscure reasons does not like homosexual people should be able to deny services to them as an expression of his own dislike.”

The attorney general argued against same-sex marriage in a separate legal challenge last year.

The country’s Democratic Unionist Party has previously attempted to introduce ‘conscience’ laws which would permit active discrimination against gay people on the grounds of religion.