‘Gay marriage cake’ row could cost taxpayers £30,000

The 'Support Gay Marriage' cake that Ashers refused to bake.
The 'Support Gay Marriage' cake that Ashers refused to bake.

Lawyers acting for the Christian Institute have estimated that the Equality Commission’s case against Ashers Baking Company could cost taxpayers over £30,000.

The Newtownabbey-based bakery, which has been running for 22 years, refused to bake a cake featuring Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie with the slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’ as it conflicted with their Christian beliefs about marriage being between a man and a woman.

The £30,000 estimate by the Christian Institute, which is supporting Ashers, only covers the cost of a county court case.

If that verdict was appealed to higher courts, the costs would be even greater.

The Christian Institute’s deputy director of public affairs, Simon Calvert said that if the case proceeds to court “it could top £30,000” in costs.

He added that the bakery’s owners, the McArthur family, had met with solicitors to discuss their legal response.

This would be sent to the Equality Commission ahead of next week’s deadline, he said.

He continued: “It will then be up to the commission to decide if they want to pursue their threatened legal action against Ashers. We hope they will see sense.”

According to Mr Calvert, there had been “huge support for the McArthur family both from people who agree with their Christian values and also from people who don’t share their Christian faith but think that they are doing nothing wrong and should be entitled to their freedom of conscience.”

He added: “I think an awful lot of people recognise that in this case they were being asked to take part in a PR campaign for same-sex marriage and most people think it is unfair that the Equality Commission is trying to use the threat of legal action to compel them to do that.”