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21 October 2016

Press release

Ashers ruling - will justice be done?

Ashers ruling - will justice be done?

At 10am on Monday, 24 October 2016, the Court of Appeal in Belfast will deliver its ruling in the case brought by the Equality Commission against Ashers Bakery.

Peter Lynas, former barrister and EA Northern Ireland director commented:

"Ashers Bakery discriminated against an idea, not a person. While the law rightly prohibits the later, the former is not only allowed, but encouraged in a healthy democratic society. A law designed to protect a minority is now being used by the new majority to force their views on others."

"What began as a battle to remove state discrimination against the LGBT community, now seeks to use state power to punish those who refuse to support same-sex marriage. This is what John Stuart Mill warned of when he spoke of the 'the tyranny of prevailing opinion'."

"If this appeal is lost, freedom of conscience and religion will effectively be banished from the public square for everyone in Northern Ireland.

"This is not about special protection for Christians. The mark of a democratic society is that competing views are discussed and debated. Forcing someone to promote a view that they fundamentally disagree with is the antithesis of a free and fair society. 

"Let's hope justice is done."

Media Enquiries

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

After the ruling the following are available for comment at the court: 

Peter Lynas, NI director, 07899 898066
David Smyth, NI public policy officer, 07739 307656

Notes to Editors

Background to the case:

The McArthur family, who own Ashers bakery, run a successful family business. Gareth Lee, a gay rights activist, asked Ashers bakery to make a cake with the slogan 'Support Gay Marriage' on it. Ashers were happy to sell Mr Lee a cake, but not to promote a view contrary to their firmly-held religious beliefs. When they ultimately declined his order, Mr Lee went to the Equality Commission who supported his claim alleging discrimination. The Christian Institute are supporting Ashers Bakery. At first hearing in the County Court, Ashers bakery was found to have discriminated against Mr Lee on all three grounds of the claim - sexual orientation, religious belief and political opinion. The Attorney General intervened in the Appeal case raising issues about the ECHR compatibility of the very legislation on which the initial findings were made. The judgement from the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal is due on Monday 24th October.

The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK's two million evangelical Christians. For more than 170 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 more than 80 denominations, nearly 4,000 churches, 600 organisations and thousands of individual members and supporters. 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/join