24 October 2016
Disappointment for Ashers as appeal unsuccessful
Today the Court of Appeal in Belfast dismissed the appeal brought by Ashers Bakery in what has become known as the 'gay cake' case.
Peter Lynas, former barrister and EA Northern Ireland director commented:
"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.
"This was a very complex case about a very simple cake. Today's outcome is disappointing. Ashers discriminated against an idea, not a person. They would not have made a cake with that slogan for anyone - gay or straight. As they would have treated everyone the same, there can be no discrimination. That is why the majority of people in Northern Ireland support the bakers and will struggle to understand this ruling.
"While the Chief Justice noted it was important that a 'chill factor' was not created, we are concerned that that is exactly what will happen.
"This case shows how far the state can go in forcing someone to act against their fundamental beliefs. We will have to wait and see if there will be further appeals to the Supreme Court. We will also have to review whether the current law is fit for purpose given how it has been interpreted. It now appears not just to protect people, but also particular public messages.
"The McArthur family have been dragged through the courts for standing up for their beliefs. We hope this ruling will not discourage others from boldly and graciously standing firm in their faith.
"The court noted that the Commission did not offer any assistance to the McArthurs and that in future the Commission should give advice in such cases. We have long sought a relational approach from the Commission and it is clear that bridges will have to be built with the faith community."
Evangelical Christians overwhelmingly back the right of businesses to choose what they print, publish or put on a cake.
The Evangelical Alliance regularly surveys evangelical Christians on a range of subjects and in a recent survey taken in August and September 2016, respondents were asked whether: "A business should have the right to refuse to print, publish (or write in icing on a cake) a message with which it does not agree."
89 per cent of evangelical respondents agreed, with 56 per cent agreeing strongly. A further 6 opted for neither agree nor disagree while only 5 per cent disagreed.
Tel: 07766 444 650
Notes to Editors
Peter Lynas and David Smyth are available for interview
- Peter Lynas, NI director, 07899 898066
- David Smyth, NI public policy officer, 07739 307656
1208 evangelicals were surveyed in August and September 2016 as part of a regular series on the beliefs and actions of evangelical Christians. Further results from this survey will be released in due course. Earlier surveys in this series can be found at:http://www.eauk.org/snapshot
The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK's two million evangelical Christians. For more than 170 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We're here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it's celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across more than 80 denominations, nearly 4,000 churches, 600 organisations and thousands of individual members and supporters. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK - we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org/join