The Ashers gay cake row ruling delivered in Belfast this morning has been welcomed by Northern Ireland’s largest support organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people, the Rainbow Project.
Giving her ruling at Belfast County Court, district judge Isobel Brownlie held that the Christian-owned bakery – which refused to make a cake carrying a pro-gay marriage slogan – was guilty of “direct discrimination for which there can be no justification”.
Speaking after the verdict, John O’Doherty, director of The Rainbow Project said: ‘We welcome this judgment. Judge Brownlie cut through the noise surrounding this case to address the facts. Ashers agreed to make the cake. They entered into a contractual agreement to make this cake and then changed their mind.
“While sympathetic as some may be to the position in which the company finds itself; this does not change the facts of the case. The judge clearly articulated that this is direct discrimination for which there can be no justification’
“We do not believe that this matter should have been brought to court. We believe that Ashers bakery should have accepted the Equality Commission’s invitation to engage in mediation, where a remedy could have been found without the expense and division surrounding this court case.
“However, most damaging of all has been the attempt by politicians to use this case to justify amending the law to allow businesses to discriminate against LGB&T people with the so-called ‘conscience clause.’ We would now urge Paul Given MLA and the DUP to make it clear to the people of Northern Ireland that they will not legislate to reduce the hard-won legal protections for our community.
“We once again extend the hand of friendship to all people of faith, churches and families. We would encourage faith leaders to engage with our community to ensure better relations and to develop trust and respect between our overlapping communities for the betterment of our society.”