The European Court of Human Rights dismissed on Thursday a case taken against the United Kingdom Government regarding a member of the LGBTQ community who sued Northern Ireland's Ashers Baking Company for denying a request to bake a cake with a same-sex slogan.
As per The Christian Institute, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg dismissed the challenge to overthrow a United Kingdom Supreme Court decision in October 2018 that sided with Ashers Baking Company who denied Gareth Lee service for a cake promoting same-sex marriage.
The case, locally renowned as the "gay cake" case, was taken to the European Court of Human Rights by Lee's lawyer-same-sex activist Ciaran Moynagh of Phoenix Law-against the U.K. government. The Ashers and The Christian Institute, though not parties to the case, nonetheless submitted their written interventions, which were eventually upheld by the European Court.
The European Court of Human Rights dismissed the case and sided with the U.K. government in a unanimous vote of 5-0 ruling that concluded the "issue was about the message, not the messenger," as such "there was no discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation" nor "on grounds of religious belief or political opinion."
In addition, the human rights court also pointed out that "equality law does not compel people to say something with which they profoundly disagree." It raised that the "less favourable treatment was afforded to the message, not to the man" because the "objection was to being required to promote the message on the cake." It deemed in its final decision that the application is "inadmissable" and that Lee was asking them "to usurp the role of the domestic courts."
The Christian Post explained that Lee, a member of the advocacy group QueerSpace, ordered a cake with the "Sesame Street" characters Bert and Ernie topped with the slogan, "Support Gay Marriage," in 2014 but was refused by the bakery owners, couple Daniel and Amy McArthur, for the reason that it was contrary to their Christian beliefs on marriage.
The McArthurs were sued by Lee in a case filed in the Belfast County Court who sided with him and fined the McArthurs the equivalent of $600. The Irish couple filed a motion in the appeals court but lost the case in 2016 when the three judges favored Lee.
"In the present case the appellants might elect not to provide a service that involves any religious or political message...What they may not do is provide a service that only reflects their own political or religious message in relation to sexual orientation," the appeals court said in its ruling.
The McArthurs filed an appeal in the U.K. Supreme Court thereafter who ruled in 2018 that the couple refused service out of objecting "to the message, not to the man." As such, the Supreme Court concluded there was no "discrimination" done by the McArthurs and sided with Ashers Baking Company.
The Christian Institute Spokesman Simon Calvert raised in a statement that the U.K. Supreme Court's decision was credible and favorable to many, raising its "implications" on free speech to other people of faith.
"The ruling in October 2018 by five of the country's most distinguished and experienced judges was welcomed by lawyers, commentators and free speech experts from across the spectrum. They all knew of the implications for freedom of speech and religion, had the decision gone against Ashers. This could have included a Muslim printer being forced to print cartoons of Mohammed, or a lesbian-owned bakery being forced to make a cake describing gay marriage as an 'abomination'," Calvert said.
Calvert commended the European Court's decision for upholding the U.K. Supreme Court's ruling that protected the McArthur's rights, calling it "good news." He expressed "relief" that attempts to overturn it was rejected.
"The UK Supreme Court engaged at length with the human rights arguments in this case and upheld the McArthurs' rights to freedom of expression and religion. It was disappointing to see another attempt to undermine those rights, so it is a relief that the attempt has failed. I'm surprised anyone would want to overturn a ruling that protects gay business owners from being forced to promote views they don't share, just as much as it protects Christian business owners," Calvert stressed.