Ashers Bakery in Belfast declined the request for a cake with an image of Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie below the motto Support Gay Marriage last May

Live updates gay cake row: Ashers bakery guilty of discrimination against gay man (Belfast Telegraph)

Previously: Settle Before Icing


121 thoughts on “Baking Bad

    1. Paolo

      I’m going to find the nearest Muslim printers and ask for a Prophet Mohammed cake.

      I’ll see yiz in court.

      1. Don Pidgeoni

        Can I come and watch you try to order that? Especially since I’m pretty sure printer technology is advancing but not enough to print a cake

      2. Spjoap

        I think you will find that this has been tried and that no company has ever been taken to court it is enshrined in their laws and they do not recognise our laws.
        They do not take orders from women in the work place and if you had been watching a debate on the BBC you would also have seen that what they really believe and want and you can bet that the points put forward will not be subject to any prosecution or debate .

  1. Spaghetti Hoop

    Really pleased to hear this judgement. Discrimination, above all in business and public affairs, should be thrown the book. All companies should have a customer charter which outlines a code of ethics and equality.

    1. rotide

      Suppose you owned a printing company Spaghetti and MAFM came to you with the ‘every child …’ poster design. Would you fulfill the order?

      1. Seriously

        it wouldn’t be against any Discrimination Law to refuse their order because you find it offensive, as you are not discriminating against any legally protected group.

      2. Spaghetti Hoop

        Yep, I would. Even though I don’t personally agree with their message.
        I actually run a small business that services the wedding/civil ceremony industry and in the one week I had a religious organisation as well as a gay couple as clients and I treated either no different. Wouldn’t even pass judgement….both are respected customers to me.

        1. Nilbert

          I see… no need to pass judgement as long as you are being paid. the customer is always right?

        2. rotide

          I’ve refused service for things I don’t agree with in the past. Mind you I wasn’t starving and I don’t run a business so I didnt have others depending on me taking the job. It just meant i didnt do that particular job and didn’t get paid for it.

          1. Joe the Lion

            it’s one thing to refuse to enter a contract for valid business reasons, another to do it out of homophobic beliefs (and to be dumb enough to admit it)

            death to homophobic cake

    1. All the good ones fly south for winter

      Thankfully what is and what is not bigotry is for the collective to decide so odds are most individuals will not get crushed – Phew!

  2. Grouse

    I guess I support the judgement, but thinking about it does make me appreciate how much easier it is to answer the question: “should marriage contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex?” than it is to have opinions on quagmires like this. The referendum question is easy peasy compared to this, so I’m glad that’s the only question I actually have to answer this week.

    1. Tidy Dave

      Sorry for the buzzkill buddy, but there’s also the question of the minimum age for candidates for the Irish Presidency.

        1. Tidy Dave

          You’re right there Ted. Maybe we should all just stay in bed all Friday. Of course, you don’t have to do that either if you don’t want to. I just felt it was worth a reminder, rather than talking about all of the things one doesn’t have to do in this wonderful world in which we live.

  3. newsjustin

    Be careful what you wish for. Mr Lee could end up being the guy who sank the YES side. This is grist to the mill for the No side.

      1. Don Pidgeoni

        No no news is an undecided voter! He is just asking questions! WHAT IS THE ARTICLE CALLED?!!

    1. Joe the Lion

      ouch pass the salt

      you know full well that pepper and salt don’t go into cake – except just a pinch of salt I guess in breads

      so it won’t be grist to anyone’s mill

      sorry dumbass

  4. martco

    good call

    have to wonder at the crass stupidity of this crowd tho…surely they could have played some other card like fear of breaching copyright to cover their tracks no?

  5. Clampers Outside!

    From the BelTel link “Karen McArthur, a founder and company director at Ashers, told the court she had accepted the request to avoid embarrassment or confrontation but, as a born-again Christian, knew she could not fulfil it.”

    Two words – “born again”


    1. Robert

      “she had accepted the request”

      To me this is crucial, isn’t this more a “breach of contract” rather than discrimination?

      1. Zarathustra

        If there is such a thing as reincarnation, knowing my luck, I’ll come back as myself.

  6. Gers

    “It had been ordered by gay rights activist Gareth Lee for a private function” – Frankly I think it was ordered in that particular place just to stir it, and it worked.

    1. Don Pidgeoni

      He was a regular customer. The bakers are the ones stirring the s**t. Bake the man his cake.

    2. Mulch

      Even if he did it to piss them off, they should have supplied the cake.
      If anything, that would have been the Christian thing to do.
      Its the law. Unlike religion, you cant just cherry pick the bits you like.

      1. Robert

        What you can expect to see now is a (powerful) evangelical lobby to amend the law just so.

    3. Don Pidgeoni

      He was a regular customer. The bakers are the ones stirring the sh**. Bake the man his cake.

      1. donkey_kong

        regular ?
        well it proves they’d no problem with his gayness only the particular cake

        terrible verdict.

        1. Don Pidgeoni

          Or that he wasn’t stirring and that they are more than happy to take his money for somethings. The end of the day, its a business. You are there to do business within the law. This was against the law (see link below).

  7. Owen C

    Big proponent of a Yes vote, but I think this is a terrible decision. People need to be given certain freedoms in their private lives, both personal and business. This bakery is not providing a regulated product that could not have been provided elsewhere. This will simply harden the view of many on the No side that the changes to equality laws are designed to form them to do things they genuinely believe they should not be doing, which is not at all what the intention of equality or changes to marriage laws are supposed to be about (they’re supposed to be inclusive, not enforcive). Like i said, terrible decision in terms of long term fence mending btwn Yes and No camps. Better to see a business starved of customers for a principled view than to force them to do something they dont want to do.

    1. Mulch

      The freedom you refer to this in this case is the freedom to discriminate.
      They are a business, they have to follow the rules like every other business.
      Throwing out the religion card is not an excuse. This ruling is inclusive as it means that you cannot discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation.

    2. Stewart Curry

      Down here they have that freedom, unless they are discriminating against people. It’s been the law for 15 years.

    3. Spaghetti Hoop

      But a bakery are not there to take a stance or bed-into a ‘Yes or No camp’…they are established to bake cakes….for their customers.

      1. Owen C

        Lots of people using the “its the law” excuse in response to this. But given that the entire debate on gay marriage is about CHANGING THE LAW, its perfectly fair game to question whether these are appropriate or sensible laws! As i said, better to publicise actions like these and let society not give them any business, rather than coerce people into being forced to do things. I dont think many people will change their genuine principles just because the government tries to force them to. You need to let them see how the rest of society wont be involved with people who hold those principles.

        1. Jane

          As far as I’m aware, Belfast is in the UK, which means that this has no implication for Ireland at all. Also, as far as I’m aware, homosexuality is a protected charactaristic under equality legislation in the UK which means that you cannot discriminate against people on this basis.

          1. Owen C


            we’re a few days from a referendum which is about the fundamental equalisation of homosexuality with heterosexuality in this jurisdiction in terms of legal status. Some people have suggested that a “conscience clause” be included with the proposed legislation. This is a perfect example of where a conscience clause might (note might) have been a decent idea. This is also about how wide discrimination laws should be spread – do i have to be nice to gay people if i am nice to straight people? In the Republic we currently allow for certain exemptions to the idea of discrimination vs personal rights to choose, ie men only golf clubs, women only gyms etc. So while Belfast is indeed not in Ireland, it is closer to us here than your interpretation of common sense debating, which is most definitely in a different universe.

    4. 2Spirits

      People have freedoms in their private lives. There is no such thing as a private business life. People can discriminate, churches can discriminate etc., but at the end of the day, the law can’t or shouldn’t. There was no other option here – freedom of conscience can’t make sense backed by a legal system.

  8. rotide

    So you’d all happily take an order for a “QUEERS WILL DESTROY THE FAMILY – VOTE NO” Cake then yeah?

    Would they be forced to make a Tiocfaidh Ar La cake ?

    Ridiculous judgement. Let them deny service on these grounds all they want and pay the social consequence of that (like daintree) .

    1. Mulch

      “Irish equality legislation prohibits direct and indirect discrimination in the area of employment and in the supply of and access to goods, facilities and services, on any of the following nine grounds – gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race or membership of the Traveller community”‘

      They would have to make the two cakes you suggest. They might not be happy about it, but they are not endorsing these views.

      1. Mulch

        Sorry, back to front on that one.
        They can refuse them, but they could not do so based on the the grounds above.

        1. rotide

          So what’s difference about this case?

          The owner didn’t refuse yer man cos he was gay, he refused to make the cake because he disagreed with the political message

          1. Mulch

            The judge in the case actually did find that the McArthurs would have at least held the perception that Mr Lee was gay, and the judgement was based on this fact.

          2. rotide

            That’s what I don’t understand and it’s not explained fully in the news report.

            The judge found that the McArthurs knew Mr Lee was gay and took the order so they didn’t discriminate against him simply because he was gay. Then they decided they didn’t agree with the message and reneged on the order. Surely that’s a political decision rather than one based on sexual orientation?

          3. Mulch

            But Mrs McArthur admitted that she only took the order to avoid a confrontation. She knew at the time that should would ‘not be able to fill the order’. It would appear from the ruling that the court took the opinion that they used the political stance as a ‘get out’ clause.
            In any case, I believe the actions also would fall under indirect discrimination. If, for example, the bakery held a belief that they don’t support gay marriage, this would indirectly affect more gay people than straight people. It may seem fair to say that we wont produce the cake with that message either for straight people or gay people, but overall, it discriminates more so against gay people.

      2. rotide

        None of those things affect the two cakes I mentioned.

        The owner would presumbly be happy to serve the gay or catholic republican customer if they ordered a Teletubbies cake but not one with a political message which isn’t covered under that law

        1. Don Pidgeoni

          If the message on said cake is discriminatory/hate speech, I’m guessing they would be able to refuse

        2. Rob_G

          I can kind of see where you are coming from – if the baker had refused to bake a cake for an actual gay marriage celebration, it would be a much more clear-cut case of discrimination.

        3. rotide

          Here’s a favorite example of Don’s.

          Suppose Don comes into my bakery every day and I serve her cakes every day, no problem.

          Then she comes in with an order for a cake that has ‘Support The push for Golf Clubs Accepting Women as members”. I do not agree that golf courses should be forced to have women as members so i refuse to make this cake. Apart from being a bit of an idiot to take a stand on this in this way, Am i guilty of discrimination under the law?

          1. Don Pidgeoni

            Still missing the point I see….:)

            I see the point you are making here though. I guess the judge decided that as a business you cannot decide who you can and cannot do business with in the way the bakers did (taking the money then deciding not to). And how the guy felt afterwards, the fact that if gay wasn’t in the message they would have done it maybe swings it towards being discriminatory.

          2. Spaghetti Hoop

            Do you have a consistent and a viewable policy on your what cake-messaging you are / are not prepared to do?

          3. rotide

            As has been said below, Stormont have continually discriminated against SMM so why is this baker being punished for doing the same? If this baker did the same down here after next week, I’d say throw the book at him but up there SSM is illegal and will be for the forseeable future.

            Spaghetti, Can they not pull the publicans dodge and just reserve the right to refuse service?

          4. rotide

            Presumably the bakers would have refused to put the message on the cake if it was a straight person asking for it and they had served the gay man for non-political orders previously so I still don’t see the problem.

          5. jeremy kyle

            Yeah I’m kind of confused too, I would refuse doing a commission if I was against it’s message.


          6. Don Pidgeoni

            Because they are a commercial enterprise they are exempt from any religious beliefs excuse

          7. Joe the Lion

            @ rotide pubs can refuse to serve anyone if they form a view they have taken enough drink on board already as they are obliged to keep a peaceful house

            you just can’t be dumb enough to say you’re refusing because so and so is a traveller etc

    2. Joe the Lion

      that message might be construed as hate speech and could be lawfully refused

      you’re a small silly little boy

  9. Bingo

    How could that cake cause offence to anyone? Pretty harmless.
    I hope people in Belfast boycott them.
    I would.

  10. General Waste

    As a few have pointed out, this is a terrible terrible decision. Any business should have the right to refuse custom if they don’t agree with a political message they are being asked to convey. Otherwise businesses face intolerable pressures to conform with the politically correct Zeitgeist rather than run their business how they see fit.

    If the LGBT community don’t like Asher’s brand of born again wackiness then tell everyone and don’t use their services but deliberately goading them with a political slogan with the express aim of taking them to court does great harm to democracy and freedom of expression.

    I’m sure the authoritarian left will jump on my comments but then again they hate those with actual liberal views as much as they hate anyone else who disagrees with them.

    1. Seriously

      Your missing the point though. We don’t live in a ‘Liberal’ country as you describe it. You cannot discriminate, North or South of the border, whether you think it is right or wrong doesn’t really matter.

      1. General Waste

        I understand the case and I know why Asher’s lost, I just think it’s unhealthy that freedom of contract is trumped by anti-discrimination in this particular case. If Asher’s refused to do a cake for a gay wedding then by all means throw the book at them but this is different.

      2. Gers

        Of course you can discriminate, then face the law. I say LGBT is discriminating this Business on religious grounds, the court thought different, doesn’t change my mind.

    2. Gers

      To me this is nothing less than harassment from a group of people saying they are being harassed. Ridiculous all together. This is only the beginning, there is a small but strong LGBT Lobby which will keep bringing up non-sense like this just because they cant understand someone can disagree with them.

  11. Lordblessusandsaveus

    This company, even if they were misguided in their judgement, don’t deserve to be the one to take the hit for all others who didn’t have the misfortune for that couple to choose them.

    This is lynch mob justice. It’s very shaky legally and I would expect that company to appeal on the grounds that it was a politically motivated campaign against them.

    There’s a vengeance being meted out by some among the gay community that belongs in 1930s Germany. And most gay people know this but are afraid to speak their minds. It does a disservice to them.

    1. Stewart Curry

      It’s not lynch mob justice. No-one is swinging fm a tree for the crime of being black in the wrong place. It’s actual justice – lawyers & judges and not people with chains and pickup trucks.
      And are you seriously comparing being fined €500 in a court of law with the Nazis?

    2. Joe the Lion

      shut up – your parents, boss or friends might realise you are a mental deficient if they read this

  12. JJdub

    From :

    “And, as the battle of the cake demonstrates, this is not an entirely self-serving argument. It is in fact crazy that the McArthurs were taken to court for not agreeing to make a cake with a slogan that they find objectionable. “Support Gay Marriage” is an act of expression, and free expression is a basic democratic value. It doesn’t just mean that, within reason, you can say what you want to say but also that you cannot be forced to say what you don’t want to say. So yes, a baker has a right not to bake a cake that expresses support for gay marriage and a priest or pastor has a right not to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony. For the law to suggest otherwise is foolish and intolerant and it does the cause of equality no favours.

    There’s a big difference between outlawing discrimination on the one hand and forcing people to express support for things they don’t believe in on the other. No one should be forced against their conscience to participate in, or support, a same-sex marriage.”

    To be guilty of discrimination for not supporting something that the NI Assembly have also refused to support on four occassions is a farce.

    1. Seriously

      “‘Support Gay Marriage’ is an act of expression, and free expression is a basic democratic value. It doesn’t just mean that, within reason, you can say what you want to say but also that you cannot be forced to say what you don’t want to say”

      Does a company have a right to freedom of expression? As people they fully have the right to express their own views on Gay Marriage but as a company they must follow the laws against discrimination.

      1. rotide

        It’s exactly this law against discrimination that we are discussing though. Clearly they didn’t have a problem with gay people if they had served this guy many times before and the judge found that they would certainly have known he was gay. So the discrimination part relates to the political message on the cake. JJdub pointed out that Stormont have disagreed with the political message so the baker is getting prosecuted for the same thing.

        1. Seriously

          But the law isn’t there to stop politicians (or Churchs, or people or that matter) from discriminating, it’s here to stop Businesses from discriminating against Employees or Customers.

          Even if that means indirect discrimination such as refusing cakes with a pro-gay message.

          People are still entitled to there views (even if they are discriminatory) but businesses are not.

      2. JJdub

        As some have said in these comments they would refuse business if they didn’t agree with the message. Lee, by his own admission was a regular customer of Ashers, so he was not discriminated against because he is gay , which is the thrust of the legislation relied upon. They did not agree with the expression ‘Support Gay Marriage’ which has the agreement of the NI Assembly; so to be found guilty of discrimination in this case goes against the law as it stands in NI and should rightfullly be appealed.

        1. Seriously

          “As some have said in these comments they would refuse business if they didn’t agree with the message”

          Then they have to face any legal consequences.

          “Lee, by his own admission was a regular customer of Ashers, so he was not discriminated against because he is gay , which is the thrust of the legislation relied upon.”

          Firstly, they may not have known he was gay before he asked for this particular cake.
          Secondly, the legislation also covers indirect discrimination, i.e. this exact example.

          “They did not agree with the expression ‘Support Gay Marriage’ which has the agreement of the NI Assembly; so to be found guilty of discrimination in this case goes against the law as it stands in NI and should rightfullly be appealed.”

          The assembly do not have to follow this legislation as it applies to customer as they are not doing business in the North.

          As previously stated the law also covers indirect discrimination.

          1. JJdub

            It is not indirect discrimination to refuse what is effectively a political message simply because it is requested by a gay individual, if it is, then the law is a nonsense.
            I am not as sure as you that he was refused because he was gay – it was the message not the individual they had the issue with. IF they had refused to make a cake for him (without any offending message) then he would be right in his action but I can’t see how refusing to ice a message can be classed as discriminatory.

          2. Seriously

            “It is not indirect discrimination to refuse what is effectively a political message simply because it is requested by a gay individual, if it is, then the law is a nonsense.”

            That’s where you and the judge in this case fail to agree.

            “I can’t see how refusing to ice a message can be classed as discriminatory.”

            I haven’t read the full judgement but I assume the fact that it would discriminate against other potential gay customers may have been a factor.

            Just because it might not be considered discrimination by the man on the street does not mean it is not discrimination. As I said previously, if this was a church refusing to do a gay wedding then the Church would have a right to expression to say no but this is a business and as such must be held to a different standard, whether or not this is ‘fair’ on the business is frankly irrelevant.

  13. SLFC Ultra

    Completely disagree with the bakeries position here but was this order placed to ultimately expose the owners and their ‘beliefs’?
    If so, it doesn’t sit well with me.
    The decision will ultimately harden the stance of many people, who for various reasons (misguided reasons), disagree with homosexuality.
    Breaking down these peoples beliefs and attempting to enlighten them will become a near impossible task.
    Is it ridiculous to suggest that future generations of this family will continue to believe that homosexuality is wrong? Can the same be said for the order families in the same church?
    I think it’s a fairly reasonable assumption that any hope that this particular group of people will never change their views, not in my lifetime anyway.
    These are the problem groups when it comes to the question of equality. These are the people that need to be worked on.
    Two wrongs don’t make a right, and I think Mr Lee’s decision to take this to court was wrong.

  14. Caboosicle

    Does this ruling mean that if you went to a Muslim bakery and asked them to reproduce that Charlie Hebdo or the Danish cartoon of Mohammed front cover, and they refused, you could take them to court?

    1. Don Pidgeoni

      If Charlie Hebdo or the Danish cartoon of Mohammed front covers were covered by discrimination laws then yes probably. If you were doing it just to be a dick, then no.

      1. Paolo

        Wrong again DP. The judge ordered that the business does not have the right to choose what service it provides.

        “The defendants are not a religious organisation. They conduct a business for profit. As much as I acknowledge their religious beliefs, this is a business to provide service to all. The law says they must do that.”

        Therefore anyone refusing to print a Prophet Mohammed cake would be open to litigation, even if they happened to be muslim.

        1. Don Pidgeoni

          The laws that the judge referring to being discrimination laws not laws that say you must bake me this cake. That is the point.

          1. Paolo

            The defendants claimed that they were willing to serve Mr. Lee (as they had done several times before), they were just not willing to print that slogan. The judge ruled that they cannot pick and choose what work they do. For example, if a straight person asked for the cake to be printed, the ruling would have been the same.

        2. Joe the Lion

          it depends what the image or wording on the cake says and whether the plaintiff can successfully argue it as hate speech – it’s not automatically discriminatory

  15. Wearnicehats

    Although maybe the bakery took the cake and then refused knowing that it was vindictively motivated and would end up in court and that they would then lose coming up to the referendum giving plenty of airtime to it and the no side. It would be a laugh to see the bakery that made the cake done for copyright infringement after all this publicity. Or alternatively sued for suggesting bert and ernie are “special friends”.

  16. tonyc

    Are the Asher’s being discriminated against because of their Religion/ religious beliefs ?

    1. JJdub

      Don’t you know ‘equality’ is a one-way street so doesn’t apply to anyone who may have a different opinion to the hive

Comments are closed.