Hundreds sign petition opposing ‘gay cake’ row legal action

Daniel McArthur, General Manager of Ashers Baking Company.
Daniel McArthur, General Manager of Ashers Baking Company.
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A petition launched last week against the Equality Commission’s move to take legal action against Ashers Baking Company has already been signed by hundreds of local people.

The petition, launched by MPs William McCrea, Nigel Dodds and Sammy Wilson, has also received support from people in other parts of the UK, according to the DUP.

The Newtownabbey-based bakery business is facing a civil case after the Equality Commission accused it of “unlawful discrimination” for refusing to fulfil an order for a cake carrying a slogan supporting gay marriage.

The owners of the bakery, the McArthur family, deny discrimination and stand by their decision not to produce the cake, stressing that its pro-gay marriage message conflicts with their Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.

The company has received widespread support for its stance, including from senior church leaders and political representatives, who believe that the issue as “a matter of conscience.”

The Christian Institute, which is supporting Ashers in its legal fight, has accused the Equality Commission of “wasting taxpayers’ money” - a view echoed by Mr Dodds, Dr McCrea and Mr Wilson.

The petition launched by the DUP representatives reads: “We the undersigned express our concern at the use of public funds by the Equality Commission to pursue a prosecution against Ashers Bakery because of their refusal to promote gay marriage. We note that Ashers Bakery are not guilty of discrimination, they have not refused to sell their products to anybody on the basis of their sexual orientation nor have discriminated in any other way.”

Members of the public wanting to sign the petition can do so by calling in to any of the local DUP Advice Centres.

The Equality Commission has stressed that “a decision as to whether or not discrimination has occurred will be a matter for the court.”

Meanwhile, the Equality Commission has been called before a Stormont committee to “explain the rationale behind its pursuit of Ashers.”