Whose rights take precedence: gay or religious belief?
The County Court for Northern Ireland has today delivered judgment in the well published ‘Gay Cake’ case of Lee v Ashers Baking Co Ltd et al (unreported), determining that a gay customer’s rights to access goods and services is more protected than the service provider’s religious belief.
The claimant had sued the bakery following the manager’s decision to cancel an order for a cake with an image and slogan in support of gay marriage. The two directors of the bakery were found guilty of direct discrimination and had breached regulation 5 of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 and Article 3 of the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 in their failure to provide goods and services to an individual on the grounds of their sexual orientation and political opinion.
While this is a Northern Ireland case, this will provide a precedent for consideration in any similar case in England and Wales and may well be approved at some point in the future.
A copy of the Court’s judgment can be found here.