As we all know, Ashers, the bakery firm which made the cake, had refused the requested icing ‘Support Gay Marriage’ because the message did not chime with their religious beliefs, Lindy McDowell writes in the Belfast Telegraph.
As we all know, Ashers, the bakery firm which made the cake, had refused the requested icing ‘Support Gay Marriage’ because the message did not chime with their religious beliefs
It’s back. Just when you thought the lid on the bread bin had been hammered down, sealed for all eternity, The ‘gay cake’ returns. This thing has had more sequels than Star Wars. Baked back in 2014, the infamous sponge should be well past its ‘best before’ date both in terms of nutrition and litigation.
But apparently no. The mouldy remains have been scooped up, plated up and readied once again to be presented before the Great European Bake-Off judges (or, as they prefer to be known, the European Court of Human Rights).
To put the old cake in historical context, it was baked back when David Cameron was still in Downing Street, Jeremy Clarkson was in Top Gear, Boris Johnson was Mayor of London and the Giro d’Italia was in Belfast.
In the years since it’s been hauled before courts more times than the Naked Rambler.
As we all know, Ashers, the bakery firm which made the cake, had refused the requested icing ‘Support Gay Marriage’ because the message did not chime with their religious beliefs.
Customer Gareth Lee took them to court with the help of the Equality Commission. He won, Ashers appealed… this went on for a bit until finally the Supreme Court found for Ashers.
But now we are all back on the public benches with the doughy old defendant again in the dock. No wonder we have cake fatigue…
Will the cake ever be set free? Will we ever be free of the cake?
We are not very good at letting things go in Northern Ireland, are we?
The gay cake has become the Drumcree of the bakery aisle. We seem to have been marching up and down with it forever. With no indication that either side is ever going to give way.
I very much support gay marriage, but I also believe that in this instance the freedom of speech argument does apply.
And it’s precisely the freedom of speech aspect the new court action will now be focusing on. According to Mr Lee’s firm of solicitors, who are taking the UK (not Ashers) to the ECHR: “One of the main arguments is: we challenge the concept that a business can have religious beliefs. Its owners may, but businesses, brands and companies are separate from their owners and their personal and private views.”
It’s a contentious argument with obvious implications for a whole raft of businesses, not least those which increasingly are at pains to inform us of their ‘ethos’.
We’ve been through all the many ‘what if’ scenarios before, and doubtless will be chewing them over again for weeks, possibly years to come as the legal action rumbles on.
But there’s also another important batch of dough involved in this case. The new action is presumably again being funded by large wads of taxpayers’ money. How much? And for how long?
Taking a stand against discrimination – absolutely I would support that.
But this action seems more about forcing business people to conform to the rulings of the Thought Police.
Your personal beliefs are not allowed to influence the type of business you run? What implications would that not have for all the myriad of firms – many of them small and still family-run – which provide us with a rich, diverse range of services and commerce?
It’s not just the avowedly Christian businesses which most of us would be well aware might not be the first port of call when expecting certain goods or services.
Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist business concerns would equally be affected.
Leftie business owners as much as conservatives would be expected to set aside in the workplace the values they live by. Might even human rights lawyers find themselves challenged too?
Freedom of thought, of speech, of conscience – those the very cornerstones of a liberal society. We should not be seeking to dilute or neuter them.