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UK Challenged in Gay Marriage Cake Case

on Friday, 23 August 2019.

On 10 October 2018 the Supreme Court (SC) handed down its decision that Ashers bakery, who refused to bake a cake with the message 'Support Gay Marriage' on it, had not discriminated against Mr Lee, a homosexual man who asked them to fulfil that order.

The SC held that, amongst other things, the owners of the bakery had not objected Mr Lee but rather to the contents of the message on the cake - Mr Lee's sexual orientation was therefore not relevant. The owners of the bakery had no objection to serving Mr Lee - what they objected to was the positive act of writing the message on the cake. The SC found that it was not enough for Mr Lee to show that his order was refused because of his perceived connections to the gay community.

The case led to significant commentary on how far businesses are free to express their own religious views if those views conflict with the rights of others - this is particularly important and relevant in the context of the employer / employee relationship. 

The announcement of Mr Lee's intention to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights suggests that this litigation is not at an end - watch this space for further developments in this case.

The European Court of Human Rights oversees the European Convention on Human Rights and is not an institution of the European Union. People living in one of the Council of Europe's 47 member states (including the UK) can refer a case to the court.

For more information please contact Mark Stevens in our Employment Law team on 0117 314 5401 or complete the form below.


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