Northern Ireland

Ashers Baking Company: Show of support for County Antrim firm's stance in 'gay cake' row

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Media captionSimon Calvert of the Christian Institute says the issue is not about turning away customers

There has been a major show of support for a County Antrim bakery that refused to make a cake bearing a slogan supporting gay marriage.

More than 2,000 people were at the event in Belfast organised by the Christian Institute.

Christians from across Northern Ireland attended, which the organisers said was to support the stance taken by the McArthur family who own the bakery.

The bakery said the slogan was contrary to their Christian beliefs.

The cake was ordered from Ashers' Belfast shop by a gay rights activist who wanted it to feature the logo of a campaign group called Queerspace.

Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said the issue is not about turning away customers.

"This is simply about whether someone should be forced to promote a message with which they profoundly disagree and everyone ought to have that freedom not to be forced to promote a message that they don't agree with," Mr Calvert said.

Image caption Crowds outside the Waterfront Hall on Tuesday night

On Tuesday evening, hundreds more supporters stood outside the Waterfront Hall venue and sang hymns.

One woman from Dundonald Presbyterian Church said it was an issue that touched a nerve amongst Christians.

"We believe our loyalty to God is greater than anything else," she said.

The Equality Commission has funded a case against the bakery.

Previously, gay rights campaigners have said the issue is not about same sex marriage, but about providing goods, facilities and services.

The case is listed to begin later this week.

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