The Not So Great Ulster Bake-Off


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’ in May, 2015

Five justices unanimously ruled that the McArthur family [who said they were being forced to act against their religious beliefs] did not discriminate against gay rights activist Gareth Lee on the ground of sexual orientation.

The court’s president, Lady Hale, said:

“It is deeply humiliating, and an affront to human dignity, to deny someone a service because of that person’s race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief. But that is not what happened in this case.

“The bakers could not refuse to supply their goods to Mr Lee because he was a gay man or supported gay marriage, but that is quite different from obliging them to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed.”

Because religion sort of?


Belfast bakery wins UK Supreme Court appeal in ‘gay cake’ case (RTÉ)

Previously: Baking Bad

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105 thoughts on “The Not So Great Ulster Bake-Off

  1. Anomanomanom

    Let’s be perfectly honest here. Religion is the biggest con job of all time. People will question a magician on how they do tricks, but take the idea of a man walking on water, dying&coming back to life and ascending in to heaven(so floating/flying) as a fact. Can anyone see the problem here.

    1. ivan

      Take that a step further; go to a criminal trial where the whole thing hangs on that thing ‘evidence’ – that which has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

      Evidence is given from the witness box.

      Where people have to swear.

      On a bible, where the subtext is “I’ve studied (say) toxicology for twenty years and know how stuff happens because I’m a scientist, but I’m OK with the contents of that there book…”

          1. Cian

            yes, but no. Jesus said not to make oaths at all. So swearing on a bible is, in itself, a conflict of Jesus’s commands.

            Matthew 5:33–37:
            Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

    2. postmanpat

      Were all atheists here, but isn’t its better for everyone if everyone respects each others beliefs? A gay rights activists should appreciate this, instead of forcing a devout Christian (yes homophobic, yes probably homosexually repressed themselves,) who are afraid of going to hell for all eternity for supporting gay marriage in the form of a cake. Not exactly a classy way to deal with the situation. No it had to be all DRAMA!!!!! (jazz hands!!) Its good that the supreme court supports peoples rights to there beliefs. It was all over a refusal to bake a cake. White people problems. Jesus, the gay customer probably believes in god themselves. A load of mad people . And Nornirons too..? urghhh The hard border couldn’t come soon enough!

      1. Starina

        I agree with your frustration. I don’t quite agree with your point. But there’s so much to unpack and say and it’s nearly home time.

        Everyone, just…be cool.

  2. Rob_G

    If the bakery had refused to bake a cake that said ‘Mark and David’s wedding’ on the basis that they disagreed with gay marriage, they would be denying people their civil rights. But that isn’t what happened; they were asked to make a cake with a political slogan that they didn’t agree with, and declined to do so. Glad that the judge saw sense in this case.

    1. Leon Down


      Hate is something reserved for the SJWs. It’s their special place.

      Yet for the rest of us the right to refuse to contract is essential in human society.

      Otherwise we’re all slaves.

      Which is what the SJW lefteis want – to make us all slaves to their hateful agendas.

  3. MaryLou's ArmaLite

    They didn’t refuse to make a cake because they were gay, they refused to make THAT cake.

      1. Nigel

        I wouldn’t be surprised if that wasn’t the fine legal point that won the day, but it’s fairly obviously the gayness of the whole thing that was the problem.

        1. newsjustin

          The gayness of gay marriage perhaps doesn’t appeal to then. But, nonetheless, it was very clearly a political statement.

          1. Nigel

            I’m having a hard time seeing what would motivate the bakery to refuse it on political grounds that isn’t indistinguishable from homophobia. I’m not even saying the ruling is wrong, that would depend on the law, and the court is obliged to stick to the law. I don’t even know if this counts as a narrow or a broad ruling in the sense of what sort of precedent it sets, but I’d be pretty uneasy if I was a gay person living in the North.

          2. ivan

            In fairness, Nigel, before the cake ruling, you’d be uneasy being in The Gays if you were living in the North.

            Somebody made the point elsewhere that whilst you’re *probably* right that it was homophobia that drove the decision, but it was the, ahem, fact that they were making a political point rather than a discriminatory one that saved them.

            In other words, as i understand it

            a) they can’t not serve a gay person because they’re gay
            b) they can choose to not serve a gay person who happens to be wearing a t-shirt that says ‘kill all Taigs’ because they don’t agree with the position they’re taking on a certain point, namely the killing of catholics.
            c) they can choose not to bake a cake for a gay person who wants it to say ‘kill all Taigs’ for the same reason

            Accordingly, a Catholic baker can similarly refuse our bigoted gay imaginary friend and they’re not being homophobic.

            As outlined, if the original cake was to say “Happy Wedding Day Adam and Steve” I don’t think this case would’ve been brought.

          3. Nigel

            Yeah that seems right, though I can understand how enraging it might be to have arguments that equate horror at ‘kill all taigs’ equated with ‘support gay marriage’ in much the same way in the US equivalences are drawn between a homophobic baker refusing to bake a cake for gay people with a black baker refusing to bake a cake for the KKK.

        2. Termagant

          You discriminate against people, you don’t discriminate against concepts. If a straight person had asked for the same cake they still wouldn’t have made it.

          1. newsjustin


            Which is an analogous point to the one in the blasphemy debate – people should be free to criticise/insult ideas.

          2. Nigel

            And it would still, to my mind, be discrimination on grounds of sexuality – but I can see how that argument might not carry the day in court, depending on the law. We’d need a Northern Legal Coffee Drinker to comment for further insight.

        3. MaryLou's ArmaLite

          They didn’t refuse the couple because they were gay, they refused them because of the message on the cake. I don’t know why you can’t, or perhaps don’t want, to understand that.

  4. scundered

    Could we not just make it a rule that if a religion is to be respected/accepted, that those practicing have to prove the existence of their god/entity first? That might solve a lot of problems.

    1. ReproButina

      Did you hear the Blasphemy Referendum chat on Sean O’Rourke yesterday? Ali Salem said he’d rather people killed him than insulted his religion. That’s lunacy and the sooner we eradicate it the better.

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      All this could have been avoided if they said they couldn’t use Ernie and Bert due to copyright restrictions. Disney’s legal team is a far bigger threat than a non existent deity.

  5. Shane Duffy

    Proper order too. This was the Left trying to force people to act against their conscience. You can rest assured if the shoe was on the other foot and it was a gay bakery we’d be wall to wall with poor us hashtags.

    Stop preaching to the choir BS, as you’re finding with your falling readership numbers, it’s very, very small.

  6. Randy

    Its democracy
    The LGBT community must realise we have freedom to express our beliefs
    If this is taken away hello Adolf and we have the new world order
    What offends me is removing my rights

    1. ReproButina

      Northern Ireland deny same sex couples the right to marry.

      Does other people being denied their rights offend you?

      1. MaryLou's ArmaLite

        No, “liberals” who attempt force people of different views, to conform to their “liberal” way often behave like fascists.

        1. Nigel

          Who can forget the terrifying wave of anti-discrimination lawsuits that swept through Germany in the 1930s, ushering the Nazis into power.

          1. Topsy

            Nonsense. Excellent result. LGBT cannot bully everybody, as the supreme court declared today. You can’t have your cake & eat it.

    2. Please

      Cool I want to express my beliefs too

      Can I have a flan please with “end the state of Israel” on it? Oh and I’m going to try and spread it evenly on your face, Abraham said

  7. newsjustin

    The logic why this is the correct outcome (finally) is the same logic why it is correct not to make a crime of blasphemy (no matter how unenforceable it it).

    1. Nigel

      How so? Blasphemy rarely (I’m hedging a bit, because who knows?) causes real or material harm to anyone, except to people punished for it, which is not to dismiss genuine offence or upset at some types of blasphemy. Discrimination of various types has, rather notoriously, caused all sorts of hardships.

      1. newsjustin

        There was no personal discrimination in the cake case. No hatred or animosity directed towards anyone on the basis (as suggested in the case) of their sexuality. The cake shop made a decision on a political matter based on their own political beliefs.

        Likewise, generalised (i.e not hatred directed at one person or even a group of people) blasphemy, no matter how much people might not like it, is an expression of people’s own political belief and way of seeing the world.

        You’re right that discrimination on the grounds of e.g. sexuality, race, religion etc is bad. The whole point of this case, and the result that has emerged, is that the bakers DIDN’T discriminate on the basis of the customer’s sexuality.

        1. Starina

          marriage equality is not purely political. it is absolutely intrinsically linked to sexuality and religion.

        2. Nigel

          Yeah, I can see how that might work as a purely legal argument, but the fact of the matter is not wanting gay people to get married seems inextricably linked to views on sexuality.

          1. newsjustin

            We all hold a myriad of ideas and beliefs – social, religious, inherited, cultural, ideas based on our own ignorance – that inform our political beliefs. No one (I hope) is suggesting that people cannot hold personal beliefs that suit themselves.
            The law prevents us from discriminating against people on the basis of their race, sexuality, creed, etc in the public realm. As much as we might it too (or not) is does not, cannot (and should not) force us to abandon our beliefs to suit others. It’s the very essence of freedom.
            The law can only make legal decisions and findings. And in this case it has clearly found that it was legal for them to refuse to bake a cake that had a political slogan. They don’t even need to give a reason why they disagree with the slogan. They just do.

            Bottom line. As much as you might want the law to compell people to believe what you do, it can’t and shouldn’t. Thankfully.

          2. Nigel

            I wouldn’t disagree with much of that, except for the bit at the end – at worst what is being asked is that the service provider remain neutral in their provision of services to people in classes protected by law owing to past discrimination. They’re not being asked or forced to change their own beliefs. The only real danger at that end is that the creation of the cake could be seen as endorsement of a political cause they disagreed with, which strikes me as the most forceful part of their argument.

          3. newsjustin

            That was their argument, I think.

            And my final point wasn’t a commentary on the facts of the case. It was a commentary on your understandable, but entirely wrong desire to see this legal decision as flawed somehow, because you believe that motive should have a bearing on why they declined, on political grounds, to make a cake with a political slogan.

          4. Nigel

            I don’t see it as flawed – I’m not qualified to judge. I do think the motivation was an ugly and toxic one and it’s possible this result will embolden people with the same toxic and ugly views.

          5. newsjustin

            Would you prefer if the law could compel the bakers (in this case) to work to promote a political outcome (such as the legislation for same-sex marriage) which they don’t want and don’t agree with?

            Would you also desire that an atheist artist who desires an an entirely secular education system, be compelled to design a logo celebrating a bicentinary of an order of catholic teaching nuns?

          6. Nigel

            What I want won’t change the outcome and its possible effects. This whole case seems to have been ill-advised.

  8. bob oblong

    Why do they always go into Christian bakeries for these things? surely there’s plenty of Atheist bakers out there, ready to bake their cakes, or bakeries owned by Muslim bakers? I mean, it’s not like they specifically do this to create these kind controversies, no one intentionally does something to themselves in order to seek legal action/compensation, it’s just not done in this day and age.

    1. Starina

      If a customer went into a bakery, inquired as to the religion of the owner and then left when they said they’re x religion, you’d be screaming bloody murder about religious discrimination. Go away, troll

      1. bob oblong

        Good thing there’s not a way to look up the owners and check them out on social media etc. but for sure my guy I agree, people don’t target business for claims, that’s just an urbane legend, compo culture is a myth.

        1. Nigel

          Why, would their Facebook page say ‘Don’t be coming to us for none of your gay marriage cakes, ye devils?’

          1. bob oblong

            wow if I was being cynical I would almost thing you were being deliberately obtuse, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, I’m sure what you meant to say was, “would their facebook page, profile and posts simply display the fact that they are christian and hold christian beliefs, making them an easy mark for this kind of thing.”, which is absolute nonsense of course, no one puts that kind of preparation into a claim like this, they’d just walk into a supermaket and pretend to slip and fall

          2. Nigel

            Having Christian beliefs does not automatically mean they would refuse to provide a service to people on the grounds that they’re gay, or are pursuing a political goal that will benefit gay people.

          3. SOQ

            @ scottser, Broadsheet already says it doesn’t ‘do’ bigots. Something to consider when posting homophobic comments.

        1. Starina

          I find it so bizarre that “freedom of speech” has come to mean “my right to be mean to anyone that’s not just like me”

          1. Nigel

            Look Starina this was a great victory for freedom of bigotry, why can’t you just try to be happy for them?

          2. newsjustin

            It was a win for people who think compelled speech, and compelled baking, is not good for a free society.

          3. Nigel

            It was also a win for people who think them gays are getting a bit ahead of themselves and too bog for their britches and need taking down a peg or two.

          4. newsjustin

            That might be the case for some people Nigel. But that’s incidental to the real, fundamental and important legal principle that people shouldn’t be compelled to support political ideas they don’t agree with.

            It’s a bit like saying that the only reason to vote Yes on getting rid of the Blasphemy clause is to smack down Catholics and bishops in particular. When you and I both know there are fundamentally sound, progressive reasons for removing it.

            Bottom line. Just because a gay man was on the “losing” side of this court case, doesn’t mean this was a bad decision for gay people. This is a sound decision that protects ALL people, including gay people who don’t want to be compelled to do things they don’t want to do.

          5. Nigel

            I think gay people in the North might not find it so incidental. Like I said I think the court case was ill-advised, but I can’t be quite as rapturous about the glorious legal principal upheld by the outcome – that’s just the law doing what it was supposed to do. Too easy to let it blind you to the reality on the ground.

          6. newsjustin

            Again I’d ask what it is you’d have liked to see happen here. Would you have preferred to see the case against the bakers upheld?

          7. Nigel

            I think it’s a bad outcome, but it also seems clear, for the reasons you yourself give, that it was the inevitable outcome, because it was a bad case to take.

    2. Jeffrey

      Because there will ALWAYS be something for “activists” to fight about. Its never enough and everyone is against them. Tiring. Good and correct decision from the Justices.

  9. Dub Spot

    Freedom of expression, as guaranteed by article 10 of the European convention on human rights, includes the right “not to express an opinion which one does not hold”, Hale added. “This court has held that nobody should be forced to have or express a political opinion in which he does not believe,” she said.

    The same right that enables you to disagree here.

    The fact that you are made aware of the sexual orientation of the plaintiffs is irrelevant.

    1. Nigel

      If you wanted to get really buried in the mire, there could be an argument as to whether the message on the cake is an expression of the people who ordered the cake or an expression of the baker, but maybe they trashed that out in the court case.

  10. SOQ

    Re Okay well firstly let me say that I have met Gareth on a number of occasions and he always struck me as a very genuine and decent person but, I think he was barking up the wrong tree here.

    Homophobes have an annoying habit of bleating on about their rights while also having no quams about denying other people’s. IMO This was the wrong battle to pick because the objection was to a political statement rather than the denial of services to one or more individuals. The intent was the same of course but such is the law.

      1. SOQ

        The case was lost on a legal technically, nothing more.

        Genuine question. Have you ever been discrimated against? I ask because I know first hand that up north, some people still lose their jobs when they come out and that this is just the thin edge of that very same wedge.

        1. newsjustin

          I don’t think it was lost on a “legal technicality”. Unless you think the law and the facts of the case are technicalities.

          The bakers were within their rights.

          I don’t think it’s honest or fair to suggest that a request for a non-political slogan (Congrats John and Adam) would have been declined. You just don’t know that. That would have been a completely different case.

          1. SOQ

            I am absolutely certain that John and Adam would have been refused in exactly the same way and that was Gareth and the rest of Queer Space’s mistake.

          2. newsjustin

            And if that had happened, the bakers wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.

            So the law is working well. Punishing discrimination but not legitimate expressions of political differences of opinion.

          3. scottser

            so do they uphold their policy on non-politica or religiousl cakes across all spectrums? have they never done a ‘my first 12th’ cake, or some buns with gerry faces for feile an phobail?
            would they refuse to make a kosher cake?

          4. newsjustin

            I don’t think they need to be “consistent” in refusing every political slogan. They just have the right to refuse to do a political cake.

            They would be acting illegally if they refused to make a kosher cake on the basis that the customer was Jewish.

  11. JunkFace

    Why is everybody so determined to have cakes made for them? Make your own cakes. Stop pushing agendas on everybody and seeking to be outraged. Discrimination in daily life is horrible for anyone to genuinely experience, but this case sounds like a setup just to make outrage headlines. Even Stephen Fry agreed with the outcome.

    If the modern Left keeps trying to force feed their values on everybody, they will only make the Right more powerful. Playing into their hands politically. The world is going through its most massive cultural transition over the last 10 or so years, its too fast for a lot of older or religious people. If this was a baker refusing service to someone because of their skin colour it would be a very different thing, but it was not.

    1. Cian

      What if a black person wanted a cake with “Black Lives Matter” on it. Like a political cake.

      The baker could refuse to make that cake.

      1. newsjustin

        I think they could, yes. If they didn’t want to be part of that political debate/discourse for whatever reason.

        But they can’t decline to back any cake just because the customer is black.

    2. Nigel

      Yes, I suppose we should let the homophobes determine the pace at which gay people are treated more and more like full citizens.

  12. millie st murderlark

    Can we not just all have gay cake and get along and we merry?

    Sorry. I think I have cabin fever.

  13. rotide

    Putting my Ollie hat on for a minute, i love being right.

    This case should never have gone to the high court. If the bakery had refused to take the mans order because he was gay, then guilty as charged, but as was shown, the guy had been a customer of theirs for a while so it was not his sexuality was the problem, it was the political message on the cake.

    Having said all that, they are clearly bigots and in any normal country, their business would suffer but being NI, who knows. Maybe Arlene will give them her business now.

    1. Topsy

      They are not ‘ clearly bigots’ just because you say so. Thankfully the court ruled correctly. Well done for true equality ( the right to say no) and down with bullying.

    2. SOQ

      Well you are making the assumption that they knew Gareth was gay which is not necessarily the case. He is not camp so unless he told them, which is unlikely, they would not have known.

      Royal Avenue is the street where Primark (Pennys) had complaints for placing rainbow clothes in the window coming up to Pride, but they stuck to their guns and refused to take them out of the display.

      Then, a religious nut started ranting in the media that it was God’s wrath when the building caught fire. Sadly, homophobia is alive and well in Belfast.

  14. Dub Spot

    Bottom line people – it was about what was wanted on the cake, not about the sexual orientation of the plaintiff.

  15. Leon Down

    You SJWs realise this ruling means that no gay baker can be now forced to bake an anti-gay-marriage cake, right?

    Or is this just another lame Christian bashing exercise?

    1. Steph Pinker

      Had you stuck another few erroneous-hyphens in your lame-concluding-rhetorical-sentence, I’d be open to question… ish…

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