The infamous Northern Ireland case penalizing a family baking company for refusing to promote “gay” marriage with a wedding cake may have a new life.
WND reported earlier when an appeals court in Belfast refused to offer relief from the penalties for Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland for violating that nation’s nondiscrimination laws.
And it was reported that the owners were considering taking their fight to the European Court of Human Rights.
But now, according to the Belfast Telegraph, a door has opened.
Senior judges in Belfast say that a section of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 may give the McArther family, which owns Ashers Bakery, a path to the Supreme Court.
“You need to make a decision whether you wish to pursue it,” Judge Declan Morgan told lawyers for the family this week.
David Scoffield QC, for the McArthurs, told the court: “We are happy to look at that and confirm our submissions in writing.”
The Court of Appeal last month affirmed a fine for Ashers for discriminating against Gareth Lee by refusing to make a cake for a “gay” wedding.
The bakers said they didn’t care about, or even know about, his sexual choices, but the message was what their Christian faith would not allow them to promote.
Last year a Belfast County Court ruled the bakery discriminated against Lee on grounds of sexual orientation and religious belief or political opinion. The firm was also ordered to pay £500 compensation.
The family’s representatives explained the rejection of the cake order was solely because of the message that violated their faith – it had nothing to do with Lee himself.
John Larkin, Northern Ireland’s attorney general, backed the McArthurs. He said they should not be forced to endorse a message with which they disagree.
Officials with the Christian Institute, which took part in the fight on behalf of the family, have reported that Larkin also has the option of seeking higher court review, but that was on hold pending the family’s decision.
Simon Calvert, of the Institute, said the family’s representatives had asked the Court of Appeal whether there was any further appeal route available.
The decision by the Court of Appeal effectively withdrew freedom of speech from the bakery owners and ordered them to provide faith-violating promotional messages on their cakes when customers instruct them to do so.
The politically correct decision means, according to Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute, one of the solutions would be to change the law to protect freedom of conscience.
The case goes directly to the heart of the pro-“gay” movement and could answer how far homosexuals can go in forcing Christians to violate their faith under so-called non-discrimination laws.
The same issue has arisen in the United States, with bakers, photographers, venue owners and others being forced to promote homosexuality.
In the Ashers case, a lower court judge, Isobel Brownlie, found that Ashers had broken discrimination laws by refusing to prepare a cake for customer Gareth Lee that promoted homosexuality.
Larkin intervened in the case to argue that the law doesn’t allow people to be forced to promote a message with which they disagree.
“No one should be forced to be the mouthpiece for someone else’s views when they are opposed to their own – whether in print or in icing sugar,” he said at the time.
The issue was raised that under the ruling, a Muslim baker could be forced to promote a Jewish event, or an atheist would be forced to endorse an event of faith.