A ruling is due later in the long-standing so-called ‘gay cake’ case before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.
In 2018, the UK Supreme Court ruled that Northern Ireland gay rights activist Gareth Lee was not discriminated against when Christian owners of a Belfast bakery refused to let him know. bake an iced cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”.
Mr Lee then referred the case to the ECHR, claiming that the Supreme Court had not given it the proper weight under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Mr Lee says his rights were hampered by the UK’s highest court decision to dismiss his breach of legal duty to provide services claim, and the interference was not proportionate.
The high-profile controversy first erupted when Mr Lee, a member of LGBT rights group QueerSpace, ordered a £ 36.50 cake in May 2014 with Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie for a private function marking the International Day Against Homophobia at Ashers Bakery in Belfast.
His order was accepted and he paid in full, but two days later the Christian owners of the business called to say they could not proceed due to the requested message.
Mr Lee then brought a lawsuit, backed by the Northern Ireland Equality Commission, alleging discrimination on the basis of his sexuality, and won the County Court and Court of Appeal hearings in ‘Northern Ireland in 2015 and 2016.
But Ashers owners Daniel and Amy McArthur – backed by the Christian Institute, challenged those rulings in the Supreme Court, and in 2018, five justices unanimously ruled that they had not discriminated against. client.
Then-court president Lady Hale said the McArthur family religiously believe “the only form of marriage that is Bible-compliant and acceptable to God is between a man and a woman.”
She said, “Regarding Mr. Lee’s claim based on gender discrimination, the bakers did not refuse to fulfill his order because of his sexual orientation.
“They would have refused to bake such a cake for any customer, regardless of their sexual orientation.
“Their objection was to the message on the cake, not the personal characteristics of Mr. Lee or anyone else he was associated with.”
Mr. Lee said at the time that refusing to bake the cake made him feel like a “second class citizen.”
The McArthurs said they didn’t turn down the order because of who made it, but because of the message requested on the cake.
The ECHR is due to issue a written judgment on Thursday.