Northern Ireland

'Gay cake' Supreme Court ruling reaction

ASHERS

The highest court in the UK has ruled the Christian owners of a bakery did not discriminate against a customer by refusing to make a cake decorated with the words "Support Gay Marriage".

In a judgement delivered in London, the Supreme Court ruled that the refusal of Ashers bakery in Belfast to make the so-called "gay cake" was not discriminatory.

Here is how people have reacted to the decision.

Ashers general manager Daniel McArthur

"We're particularly pleased the Supreme Court emphatically accepted what we've said all along - we did not turn down this order because of the person who made it, but because of the message itself.

"The judges have given a clear signal today. In fact it couldn't be any clearer.

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"Family businesses like ours are free to focus on giving all their customers the best service they can - without being forced to promote other people's campaigns."

Gareth Lee, the customer who took the case

"To me, this was never about a campaign or a statement. All I wanted was to order a cake in a shop that sold cakes to order.

"I paid my money, my money was taken and then a few days later it was refused. That made me feel like a second-class citizen.

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"I'm concerned not just for the implications for myself and other gay people, but for every single one of us."

John O'Doherty, director of The Rainbow Project

"While sympathetic as some may be to the position in which the company finds itself, this does not change the facts of the case.

"We believe this is direct discrimination for which there can be no justification.

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"We will however take time to study this judgment by the Supreme Court to understand fully its implications for the rights of LGBT people to access goods, facilities and services without discrimination."

DUP leader Arlene Foster

"The Ashers ruling is an historic and seminal judgement.

"This has been a long journey for everyone involved in the case.

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"I commend Amy and Daniel McArthur for their grace and perseverance. This now provides clarity for people of all faiths and none."

Michael Wardlow, Northern Ireland Equality Commission

"The law seems to be saying from this judgement that the belief of the company has actually precedence over the belief of the person who wants the service.

"It doesn't seem to us that that's the right balance.

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"If we have to do this on a case to case basis, then no-one has assurance when they go in that they're going to get the service that they've asked for."

Ian Paisley, DUP North Antrim MP

"I have written to the secretary of state for NI calling for a review of funding for the Equality Commission.

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"After such a finding by the Supreme Court the Equality Commission's immediate response has been to threaten to waste more public money on this case. Stop it now."

John Larkin, Northern Ireland Attorney General

"I welcome the decision of the Supreme Court in the Ashers' appeal.

"This decision provides an important protection against any misapplication of our equality law that would seek to compel citizens to express views with which they may disagree on grounds of their deeply held political or religious beliefs."

Peter Tatchell, Human Rights Campaigner

"Although I profoundly disagree with Ashers' opposition to marriage equality, in a free society neither they nor anyone else should be forced to facilitate a political idea that they oppose.

"If the original judgement against Ashers had been upheld, it would have meant that a Muslim printer could be obliged to publish cartoons of Mohammed and a Jewish printer could be forced to publish a book that propagates Holocaust denial."

David Smyth, the Evangelical Alliance

"I think this is a win for everyone today.

"It prevents compelled speech and the court was very clear that people of every description, of every protected characteristic, should continue to be protected from discrimination, but that's not what was happening in this case."

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister

"This is a timely judgement in bringing common sense to an issue which, fuelled by LGBT activists and extremists, had run away with itself.

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"The effort to impose the LGBT agenda on Christian businesses by compelling promotion of their political demands, irrespective of the conscience or religious belief of the business owner, needed to be reined in."

Mal O'Hara, Green Party of Northern Ireland

"The immediate effect of the ruling is to create legal uncertainty with regards to what constitutes discriminatory practice within Northern Ireland.

"This matter has also damaged community relations with vested interests attempting to portray it as a battle between those of faith versus those of differing sexual orientation."

Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland

"On this occasion the right to the exercise of Christian conscience in business has been protected, but in other cases it has not.

"We commend the patient endurance shown by the MacArthur family, which has been a powerful example and witness."

Robert Hill, UKIP Northern Ireland

"Finally some common sense has prevailed.

"This is a great decision in favour of religious freedom and in favour of freedom of speech and expression."

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