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Gay cake judgment: Human rights barrister explains what you need to know about today’s big decision

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Bakery’s refusal to make same-sex marriage cake is NOT discriminatory, rules Supreme Court

The UK Supreme Court has this morning ruled in favour of Ashers, a bakery in Northern Ireland which refused to make a cake iced with the slogan: ‘Support Gay Marriage’. A five-judge panel of Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Hodge and Lady Black made the decision.

The Ashers owners, who are Christian, were sued in 2014 by gay rights activist Gareth Lee for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and political beliefs. Having lost the initial case and the subsequent appeal, they took the case to the Supreme Court — and won. The key point made by the judges was that Ashers’ objection was to the message on the cake and not to Lee’s sexual orientation — as they ruled that it’s OK to refuse to promote gay marriage provided that you do not discriminate against gay people.

Human rights barrister Adam Wagner has been analysing the judgment.

The decision will have major implications for discrimination claims, but it seems that on this occasion Gareth Lee won’t be having his cake or eating it.

Read the judgment in full

Gay Cake Supreme Court Judgment by LegalCheek on Scribd

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62 Comments

Anonymous

Very sensible judgment.

Anonymous

So as a matter of conscience, I don’t agree with the UK’s tax laws, so, in light of today’s judgment, I can refuse to pay my tax and be immune from civil liability.

Anonymous

No, but if someone asks you to bake a cake saying “support UK tax laws” then you can refuse, lawfully.

Anonymous

You’re a moron.

Anonymous

And you’re an epsilon minus.

Anonymous

Does that mean that the establishment will stop forcing people to swear oaths of allegiance to the Queen, her heirs and successors?

Anonymous

You have committed the offence of high treason.

The relevant sentence … is death by hanging.

Anonymous

Not since 1998.

Anonymous

Wonder if it would have made a difference to the judgment if the decision to refuse to bake had been made in a country that already had gay marriage legislation? Any (informed) opinions. NI, of course, doesn’t yet have it.

K&E dolla bossa

“What you need to know about today’s big decision”.

Absolutely nothing. Shet law for pussies who can’t handle proper deal work.

Let me know when the SC gives its view on law that actually matters, like how to draft a beastly MAC clause.

Anonymous

GDL student at ULaw there

Critical Thinker

A Supreme Court led by Hale making a sensible decision?!?! Unanimously, no less!

We live in interesting times indeed.

Anonymous

The Supreme Court sat in Belfast for the hearing and the Belfast air obviously affected her usual decision making faculties.

Anonymous

Maybe they should make her hear everything in Belfast then?

Concerned

Ultimately, this was a case that boiled down to whether a business could provide a commercial service against its wishes, didn’t it? If so, it strikes me as something for the market to decide rather than the courts.

If someone doesn’t want to bake a cake advocating gay rights, go to someone who does and will gladly take the money and profit from it! The anti-gay bakery will suffer in the long run as market forces drives purchasers elsewhere. Only when that service becomes a necessary commercial service to the consumer should equality legislation take effect.

It seeemd to me that at times the entire case was nothing more than an interest group using the court process as a political tool to effectively “bully” someone of opposing beliefs. This is becoming a depressingly familiar trend with legal activism and non-party funding of litigation by special interests (that’s generally speaking, not specific to this case as I don’t know funding position).

Anonymous

I’m sure gay cakes sell like… well… hot cakes… in Northern Ireland!

Anonymous

Well, yes, you are right, but these are politically hypersensitive times in which we live. It’s a shame it had travel to the SC for some mental gymnastics.

Anonymous

Yeah good shout this case was clearly a set-up to prove discrimination. Nobody mentions that point.

This is really why this case backfired for the interest group in the end.

Anonymous

It was a set up, but has produced some very interesting thought-provoking judgments and has encouraged debate.

Very healthy.

Anonymous

It’s an abuse of process.

Anonymous

The person who wanted the cake baked targetted the bakery which was known to be run by a devout Protestant couple.

There were many other bakeries he could have asked but didn’t.

This was an aggressive attempt at a “I’ll rub it in your face and I’ll sue you if you fail to comply” stunt, which backfired most deliciously.

Trumpenkrieg

Yes, very healthy for small Christian businesses to be menaced by LGBT activists and their shyster lawyers.

Anonymous

Anti-semite.

Anonymous

It may have been a set up to “prove discrimination”, but it is concerning that the bigots and morons out there might view the judgment as a charter to discriminate against those whose sexual orientation is different from their own. In which case it will be a major set-back to equal rights and equality of treatment irregardless of orientation.

Anonymous

Then it follows that the group that organised the set up have only themselves to blame for trying to start a witch-hunt, non?

What goes around…

Anonymous

Very unattractive “us” v “them” view.

Anonymous

No, it’s the aggressive nature of the activism that is unattractive.

Anonymous

I read the headline and thought LC had actually gone and interviewed someone. Imagine my lack of surprise to see actually they just copied and pasted some Tweets.

Anonymous

All these hearings over a cake.

Clients who litigate over a principle beware!!

Anonymous

I didn’t know cakes could be attracted to other cakes.

Anonymous

Adam Wagner’s tweeted thoughts are considered and helpful. But his ‘what ifs’ miss the target and give away his instincts.

There’s nothing difficult about the distinction drawn. His greeting cards example has a simple answer: if the card company makes bespoke cards they can rely on this case to avoid being obliged to prepare a message they morally object to; if they just make a range of cards the point doesn’t arise: they’re free to exclude whatever messages they like.

As for the Nativity play, as far as I’m aware children from other faiths and of committed atheist parents are already free – by law – to be excused.

This is really a straightforward case that all liberals ought to be happy with.

Anonymous

Yes, he’s being facetious and obviously wants the bakers to be liable

Classical Liberal

You should have said that all classical liberals ought to be happy with this decision – the word “liberal” has become hopelessly corrupted, principally from the US, where as recent events show, a “liberal” is someone who does not believe in basic liberal tenets like the presumption of innocence. Just as East Germany was called the German Democratic Republic, the fascists today call themselves “antifa”.

Lars Kurth

What a about https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/photo-service-withholds-images-of-gay-cake-bakery-owners-in-protest-1.3660546?mode=amp

How does refusing to print/process photos which a) may be used to make a political point, b) show someone making a political point… differ from transferring a design with a political message onto a cake

Is the company in the Irish Times article justified to refuse their service. Disregarding some of the things the owner of the company said, which may not turn out to be in his favour should this ever come to court.

Anonymous

This is obviously different. Bear in mind this case was about discrimination in the supply of services to a customer.

(a) the photo agency didn’t create or cause any expression of opinion.

The company simply recorded an image that makes no statement of belief or opinion at all. It could be used by any person to accompany any point of view but on its own it expresses none. If they had refused to sell an image of a person holding up a banner with, say, an anti-gay marriage statement that might be different because – stretching the point in their favour – they could argue that they had no wish to allow the propagation of the banner’s message. In that case they’d be close(ish) to the bakers.

(b) is the same as (a).

Showing someone making a political point, without more, is not in itself a statement or opinion. It’s a mere record. Unless the ‘point’ is expressed in such a way that its capture has the effect of conveying a view to others it should not attract the Article 9 (or 10) protection in the context of discrimination.

This company is in essentially the same position as a firm of printers. Or cake makers.

Anonymous

The Supreme Court have made a surprising and bold decision here. For too long freedom of conscience has been put below other human rights, today we have seen a shift in that pattern.

Anonymous

It’s not really about freedom of conscience, it’s more about freedom of speech (including a right not to speak).

Anonymous

[49]: ‘The Convention rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and freedom of expression are clearly engaged by this case.’

It will definitely be interpreted as an Article 9 case by subsequent courts.

PC Brigade

Outrageous!!!!

Anonymous

Surely the danger here, that appears to have so far been overlooked, is that eating the gay cake might make an innocent person become gay?

Anonymous

“innocent person become gay”

Get off the computer Granddad..

Anonymous

Well my bad for having good Christian values.

Anonymous

“And God said unto them, go forth, but do not eat of the fruit of the Gay Cake tree, lest ye yourself become a homo”. Said the bible, never.

Anonymous

Imagine going through life denying yourself some man-on-man or woman-on-woman action not because you’ve never imagined what it’s like, not because you’ve never found anyone of the same gender attractive or desirable but because your God, whom no one has ever seen or heard and of whose existence no-one in the history of mankind has ever come close to proving, says its evil, immoral and will punish you for acting on your desires in the next life. The basis of homophobia: deny everybody else the right to indulge then suddenly all such desires, thoughts and attractions will never exist, almost as absurd as believing that man-on-man or woman-on-woman action is wrong.

Anonymous

Why would I want to engage in such disgusting and despicable acts? The lord will judge those who do. I regularly communicate with God so the nonsense you have spewed out can be disregarded. The lord guides me and leads me to live a moral and respectable life. The gates of heaven shall be firmly closed to you if you genuinely believe what you have written there.

Anonymous

You see my God doesn’t care if someone is gay or straight. So you follow in your personal life what your god says and stay away from intercourse with people of the same gender and not try to impose what your God says and I’ll follow what my god says and we’re all happy.

Anonymous

You are mistaking god with the devil.

Anonymous

My gods are logic and reason, yours appears very ignorant, intolerant and bigoted. And never forget, your god is a single white guy that never got married ….

Anonymous

Love the sarcasm.

Ciaran Goggins

I support gay rights but forcing a bakery to make a cake? Would you want a cake for your big day made by anyone who hated you? By the way, as with jail food body fluids can end up in there.

C Morris

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

Man with big cakes

I support gay rights too and would gladly give my cakes to a deserving young homosexual. I love biting pillows whilst getting plowed.

Anonymous

Imagine going through life denying yourself mutual cock and bum fun or mutual fanny fun not because you don’t ever imagine it or think about it or because it just isn’t your thing but because your “God” tells you it is wrong, evil and immoral nd you will be punished in the next life for acting on your feelings.

Ciaran Goggins

God is worried about His son Jesus, he is spending a lot of time with born again Christians.

Ciaran Goggins

Anonymously obviously. Are you a Norfolk resident?

Anonymous

fridays – Mondays and public holidays I am, other times RBK&C.

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

Anonymous

“It’s a fucking disgrace.”

Bernard Manning.

Lay Lady Lay

The situation is not comparable to people being refused jobs, accommodation or business simply because of their religious faith. It is more akin to a Christian printing business being required to print leaflets promoting an atheist message.

Anonymous

Finally! Hale doesn’t make a shitty decision. If she keeps this up she might cease to be the worst SC judge

Anonymous

I’m surprised to see so much homophobia here. Everyone knows most straight male solicitors and barristers would indulge in a bit of man on man banter after about three pints or a bottle of vino.

Anonymous

Three pints and a bottle of vino and they’d be on the dance floor singing Donna Summer.

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