Bakery owners who refused to make a ‘gay’ cake have lost a court appeal, after claiming it is a sin to print pro-gay messages.

The owners of Ashers Bakery in Belfast were found guilty of unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation and political or religious grounds, after the company in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland refused to bake a cake showing the message ‘Support Gay Marriage’ above an image of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie.

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Despite losing its initial case, the bakery owners took their case to the Belfast Court of Appeal – with financial and legal help from the anti-LGBT Christian Institute.

However, the court today dismissed the appeal from Daniel and Amy McArthur, who claimed in their appeal that God considers it a sin to make cakes with pro-gay messages on.

Their appeal had challenges the grounds for a discrimination case – claiming the alleged discrimination was against the message on the cake, and not the person buying it.

However, in its ruling today, the appeals court upheld the initial verdict against the pair.

Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan ruled: “The fact that a baker provides a cake for a particular team or portrays witches on a Halloween cake does not indicate any support for either.”

The judgement continues: “Counsel for the appellants [claimed] that a protected characteristic could not be established by a difference in treatment in respect of a message on a cake.

“We do not accept this. The benefit from the message or slogan on the cake could only accrue to gay or bisexual people.

“The appellants would not have objected to a cake carrying the message ‘Support Heterosexual Marriage’ or indeed ‘Support Marriage’.

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“We accept that it was the use of the word “Gay” in the context of the message which prevented the order from being fulfilled. The reason that the order was cancelled was that the appellants would not provide a cake with a message supporting a right to marry for those of a particular sexual orientation.

“This was a case of association with the gay and bisexual community and the protected personal characteristic was the sexual orientation of that community. Accordingly this was direct discrimination.”

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