South Antrim DUP MP William McCrea is calling for the local community to support the bakery at the centre of the ‘gay marriage cake’ row.
Dr McCrea stated: “This family-owned bakery has been the centre of controversy simply because they would not print a political message on a cake.”
Speaking the day after fellow DUP MP Gregory Campbell raised the issue of a ‘conscience clause’ to protect Christians with Prime Minister David Cameron, Mr McCrea stated: “The requested message was completely at variance with the company’s Christian values and for this they have been subjected to disgraceful media pressure.
“Sadly the Equality Commission has entered into the fray and threatens this family bakery with legal action because of their Christian belief.
“The reality is that the Equality Commission is acting in an oppressive manner and threatens the right to religious freedom in our province.
“Recently the media presented itself as the defenders of the rights of those who practised the Muslim faith yet little defence or protection has been granted to those of the Christian faith.
“Many have come to believe that the Christian community cannot hope to find favour or justice in today’s society but can expect greater persecution and intolerance towards those of the Christian faith. However, we must be strong and of good courage as we face such opposition.
“I commend the directors of Ashers Baking Company for their Christian stand and know they display no ill will against anyone but fervently hold to their strong Christian principles. I trust the community will stand by this local firm and ensure that the bakery will go from strength to strength. Calling on the public to continue to use the bakery, Mr McCrea added: “My colleagues and I at Westminster will do all we can to gain protection for those who cherish religious freedom by endeavouring to press the Government to introduce a conscience clause within legislation”.
Newtownabbey firm Ashers is currently being threatened with legal action by the Equality Commission after it refused to bake a Sesame Street-themed cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”. The cake was ordered at Ashers’ Belfast branch in May by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) activist Gareth Lee, who asked for it to be decorated with the slogan and with the logo of his campaign group, QueerSpace.
The cake from Ashers was intended for former North Down Mayor Andrew Muir’s International Day Against Homophobia event in Bangor Town Hall.
Ashers Baking Company manager Daniel McArthur has said that it was the message on the cake, rather than the fact that the customer was gay, which led to the Christian-owned bakery’s decision to refuse the order.