Activist Loses ‘Gay Marriage’ Cake Discrimination Case Involving Christian Baker

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 10: Gay rights campaigner Gareth Lee speaks to the media outside
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An LGBT activist has lost a case surrounding a Christian baker’s refusal to make a ‘gay marriage’ cake after it was thrown out of the European Court of Human Rights.

The European Court of Human Rights has thrown out a case involving a Christian baker’s refusal to produce a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” written on it.

Brought by gay rights activists Gareth Lee, the case was ruled inadmissible by the ECHR as Lee had “failed to exhaust domestic remedies in respect of his complaints”.

“The applicant in the present case did not invoke his Convention rights expressly at any point in the domestic proceedings,” the court ruling reads. ” By relying solely on domestic law, the applicant deprived the domestic courts of the opportunity to address this important issue themselves before he lodged his application with the Court.”

The court clarified in the ruling that the case might have been within the remit of the court under a number of articles highlighted by Lee’s case, but the fact that those articles were not raised during domestic proceedings, they could not be heard by the ECHR.

Lee first took the Co. Antrim Ashers bakery to court after issues regarding a cake order emerged in 2014.

While the order was initially accepted, Lee’s request was subsequently denied by the bakery due to the messaging the activist had requested to appear on the baked good.

Lee, supported by Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission, subsequently came out on top after a number of initial rulings in 2015 and 2016.

However, Ashers bakery owners Daniel and Amy McArthur appealed the rulings to the UK’s Supreme Court with support from the Christian Institute.

The pair’s appeal succeeded in 2018, with the court’s then-president, Brenda Hale, noting that the bakery’s refusal was based on the family’s religious beliefs regarding marriage.

“As to Mr Lee’s claim based on sexual discrimination, the bakers did not refuse to fulfil his order because of his sexual orientation,” Hale stated, instead noting that it was over the McArthur’s belief that “the only form of marriage consistent with the Bible and acceptable to God is between a man and a woman”.

“They would have refused to make such a cake for any customer, irrespective of their sexual orientation,” Hale concluded. “Their objection was to the message on the cake, not to the personal characteristics of Mr Lee or of anyone else with whom he was associated.”

The seven-year legal saga involving the Northern Ireland bakery echoes the ordeals of a Christian baker in Colorado.

Having been hauled through the US court system over his refusal to bake a same-sex marriage cake, winning a case in the US Supreme Court on the issue in 2018, Jack Phillips found himself in the firing line once again in 2020.

This time however, Phillips was being sued to the tune of $100,000 for refusing to bake a “gender transition” cake.

Phillips was subsequently found to have broken the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act with the refusal, being handed down a $500 fine by a district court in Denver according to CNN.

The court’s decision however is to be appealed, according to Phillip’s attorney, Kristen Waggoner.


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