The Christian owners of Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland say they are considering taking their case against the nation’s new mandate to promote homosexuality to the European Court of Human Rights.
It was just weeks ago that Declan Morgan and two other judges on the Court of Appeal in Belfast, Ireland, 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.
Ashers Baker was penalized by the local Equality Commission for Northern Ireland after its owners said they could not promote homosexuality on a cake demanded by a customer because it violated their faith.
The politically correct decision means, according to Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute, the bakery will seek a change in the law to protect freedom of conscience.
At the same time, the family is considering an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
The Christian Institute said it is writing to the Court of Appeal in Belfast to confirm the appeal procedures.
Procedures appear to be in place to prevent the case from moving up to the U.K.’s Supreme Court, even though an attorney general who intervened retains his own right to appeal if he chooses.
WND reported earlier in the case when the attorney general, John Larkin, told the judges in Northern Ireland that the Christian bakers have a right to reject a pro-homosexual message requested on a cake.
That’s both under the nation’s freedom of speech laws as well as the European Convention on Human Rights.
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 attorney general has decided to intervene, using his constitutional power to raise questions about the validity of the legislation used against the [bakery owners] McArthurs,” Christian Institute spokesman Simon Calvert noted. “And it is clear from the decision taken by the three judges, including the lord chief justice, that he has raised matters of importance.”
The issue of the speech protections available under the European Convention on Human Rights also was raised in the case.
Larkin had explained the “issue of political and religious discrimination is direct” and the ramifications are “potentially enormous.”
The bakery owners testified to the lower court that they didn’t know, or care, about any customer’s sexuality. They explained the requested message violated their Christian faith, and the European Convention on Human Rights gives them the right to refuse to put it on one of their cakes.
Calvert also discussed the ramifications of the ruling.
“What about the Muslim printer asked to produce cartoons of Mohammed? Or the Roman Catholic company asked to produce adverts with the slogan ‘Support abortion’? Any company whose owners believe that their creative output says something about them and their values has been put at risk by this interpretation of the law. We’ll work with the family and their lawyers to see what options for appeal remain open.”