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02 May 2018

Press release

Ashers case concludes - judgment reserved

Ashers case concludes - judgment reserved

The Ashers case concludes after a fascinating two days of arguments, but no decision will be made for some time.

Almost four years after the 'gay cake' was ordered, the Ashers case reached the Supreme Court, sitting in Belfast for the first time. The two-day hearing focused on the key issue of 'compelled expression' – were Ashers forced on pain of paying a civil fine to bake a cake against their religious beliefs.

Peter Lynas, a former barrister and NI director of Evangelical Alliance, commented:
"This case has been portrayed as a battle between gay rights and religious freedom; it is actually about compelled speech and conscience. It has implications for everyone and that is why it is so important.

"While there were a lot of technical arguments made before the Supreme Court, the judges seemed to grapple and engage with the core issue of the case: is it acceptable to force the bakery to make a cake, despite having deep objections to the slogan on the cake?

"Discrimination against people is wrong. Ashers did not discriminate against the customer Mr Lee because he is gay and nor should they be allowed to. But discrimination against ideas is right and necessary in a free society, because some ideas are good and some are bad. The distinction is subtle but critically important to this case. Discrimination laws protect people, not messages.

"As Ashers' legal team argued, the notion that a Christian can practise their faith on Sundays but must forget it on Monday is not real freedom of religion and certainly not freedom of conscience. Biblically, work is an act of worship, a place in which Christians express their faith.

"We need to find what lawyers call a reasonable accommodation which looks for a way to protect the different rights involved, not form a hierarchy in which one set of rights trumps another. Otherwise, the law will allow people to have their conscience or beliefs, but insist they are kept private. It will also mean the state deciding which views it thinks are appropriate in the public square.

"We will now need to wait for a decision. For the sake of a free and fair society, I for one hope and pray the Supreme Court will rule in favour of Ashers." 

Media Enquiries

Peter Lynas
Tel: 07899 898066
Email: p.lynas@eauk.org 

Danny Webster
Tel: 07766 444 650
Email: d.webster@eauk.org

Notes to Editors

  1. Peter Lynas is available for interview

The Evangelical Alliance

We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org.