Court finds no discrimination in bakery case

The Supreme Court has ruled a bakery’s refusal to supply a cake iced with the message ‘Support Gay Marriage’ was not discriminatory on the grounds of sexual orientation, as the refusal was based on the message and not to any particular person.

The high-profile dispute began in 2014 when the bakery in Northern Ireland refused to supply a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”. The customer, gay rights activist Gareth Lee, sued the company for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and political beliefs.

But the bakery has always insisted its objection was to the message on the cake, not the customer.

Lady Hale found that there was no direct or associative discrimination because ‘[i]n a nutshell, the objection was to the message and not to any particular person or persons’. Lady Hale said that the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Art 9), and to freedom of expression (Art 10), were clearly engaged, and emphasised that these rights include ‘the freedom not to be obliged to hold or to manifest beliefs that one does not hold’.

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Image credit: CJF20, Flickr