Northern Ireland

Reaction to Christian bakers Ashers 'gay cake' appeal defeat

Daniel McArthur from the family-run firm Ashers was in court on Monday with his wife Amy to hear the outcome of the appeal Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Daniel McArthur from the family-run firm Ashers was in court on Monday with his wife Amy to hear the outcome of the appeal

Politicians and commentators, as well as those directly involved in the case, have been reacting the Court of Appeal's decision to reject the appeal from Ashers bakery against a ruling that their refusal to make a "gay cake" was discriminatory.

Daniel McArthur, owner of Ashers Bakery

"We're extremely disappointed with today's ruling. If equality law means people can be punished for politely refusing to support other people's causes, then equality law needs to change.

"This ruling undermines democratic freedom. It undermines religious freedom. It undermines free speech."

Gareth Lee, the customer at the centre of the case

"I am relieved and grateful to the appeal court judges."

Michael Wardlow, Chief Equality Commissioner

"I'm pleased of the verdict today and the three judges today.

"It clarifies the law and it means that anyone whether you are straight gay or bisexual can walk in to receive a service.

"It once again puts at the centre, the reason why we've got the law is to protect people so that we can all receive the same treatment."

Michael Kelly, Editor of the Irish Catholic

"If law allows prosecution for not supporting a particular political agenda, the law needs to be changed."

Jim Wells, DUP MLA

"The Christian Institute has provided financial support for the Ashers cases. We must all now donate money for further appeals.

The Ashers case must now be referred to the Supreme Court, and if that fails to the European Court of Human Rights."

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International UK

"No surprise in the Ashers case: unlawful discrimination."

Jim Allister, leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice

"This is an assault on freedom of conscience and as such it should worry Christians and non-Christians alike.

"The aggressive 'gay rights' lobby will see this as the green light to demand that everyone not only accepts but celebrates their lifestyle."

Sean Lynch, Sinn Féin MLA

"Today's decision from the Court of Appeal is welcome and makes sense. The original decision was the correct one and I'm glad it has been upheld.

"This is the right decision and represents another step forward for equality."

Stephen Farry, Alliance MLA

"I hope lessons are learnt following this case.

"Every person should be treated equally regarding provision of goods, facilities and services, irrespective of their background or beliefs. Today's ruling underlines that."

Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation

"This verdict is a defeat for freedom of expression. As well as meaning that Ashers can be legally forced to aid the promotion of same-sex marriage, it also implies that gay bakers could be forced by law to decorate cakes with homophobic slogans.

"It seems that businesses cannot now lawfully refuse a customer's request to propagate a message, even if it is a sexist, xenophobic or anti-gay message and even if the business has a conscientious objection to it."

Peter Lynas, Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland director

"This is a sad day for the family and for freedom of conscience and religion.

"Ashers have lost the case, but even more importantly we have all lost some our freedom.

"Forcing someone to promote a view that they fundamentally disagree with is the antithesis of a free and fair society."

Very Rev. Dr. Norman Hamilton, Presbyterian Church in Ireland

"Today's judgement will have far reaching implications for all business owners by confirming that they cannot in conscience refuse to be involved in the promotion of particular causes or messages that run contrary to their beliefs - religious or otherwise.

I remain deeply concerned by the apparent limiting of freedom of conscience and free expression, which are hallmarks of any democratic society.

"Out of respect for the dignity and worth of every person, and in the interests of the common good, we want the law to protect everyone from discrimination whilst ensuring that freedom of conscience and expression are properly valued and respected."

John O'Doherty, Rainbow Project

'We do not believe that this matter should have been brought to court.

"We believe that Ashers bakery should have accepted the Equality Commission's invitation to engage in mediation, where a remedy could have been found without the expense and division surrounding this court case."

David McNarry, leader of UKIP in Northern Ireland

"Ordinary people need to have the judgement on the Ashers case clearly defined and the interpretations made in easy speak for the law abiding citizen.

"Many people will look at this case and don't know what specifically Ashers did wrong.

"The judges must precisely spell out the law in order to stop others unwittingly breaking the law."

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