A CHRISTIAN bakery owner who refused to make a cake with a slogan supporting gay marriage has claimed he should be allowed to run his business according to his religious beliefs.
Ashers Baking Company could face legal action from an equality watchdog after declining an order for the cake with the Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie on top. The gay rights activist customer also wanted the logo of a campaign group called Queerspace included.
The bakery, named after a verse from the Bible, is based in Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK where same-sex marriage is not legal.
General manager Daniel McArthur, 24, said: “I would like the outcome of this to be that any Christians running a business could be allowed to follow their Christian beliefs and principles in the day-to-day running of the business and that they are allowed to make decisions based on that.”
Gay marriage is a highly divisive issue in Northern Ireland and while the bakery’s decision has been backed by Christian advocacy groups, it faced criticism from gay rights campaigners arguing discrimination in delivering services is illegal.
The devolved assembly at Stormont has rejected several attempts to change the law on gay marriage. Ashers was founded in Newtownabbey, north of Belfast, in 1992, and now has six shops employing 62 staff.