Activist take UK to the European Court of Human Rights over 'Support Gay Marriage' cake

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. Copyright REUTERS/Vincent Kessler
By Alice Tidey
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Gareth Lee's lawyers will argue that "there is no such thing as a "Christian business"."


A northern Irish gay activist is taking the UK to the European Court of Human Rights after Britain's Supreme Court ruled that a bakery which refused to bake him a cake on religious grounds had not been discriminatory.

Gareth Lee first took Belfast's Ashers Bakery to court in 2014 after they refused to make him a cake with the message "Support Gay Marriage".

Last year, Britain's Supreme Court struck down the first and appeal rulings in favour of Lee to side with the bakery instead.

The judges said the bakery owners, the McArthurs, had not refused Lee's order because of his actual or perceived sexual orientation but instead, objected "to the message on the cake".

READ MORE: UK Supreme Court supports bakery in gay cake discrimination case

"Thus, there was no discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in this case," they said.

In a statement on Thursday, Lee's lawyers, Phoenix Law, explained the latest legal battle will not be against the bakery and its owners' right to privately-held religious and political views but will instead be against the UK.

They believe the Supreme Court's ruling "failed to give appropriate weight to Mr Lee's rights under the European Convention of Human Rights".

"One of the main arguments is: We challenge the concept that a business can have religious beliefs. Its owners may, but businesses, brands and companies are separate from their owners and their personal and private views," they add.

The firm will thus argue that "there is no such thing as a "Christian business" and that the Supreme Court ruling "blurred the line" and "creates legal uncertainty".

"We're concerned the ruling, in this case, allows any company, its shareholders or owners to hold religious or political views and those views trump the rights of its customers," they say.

READ MORE: Bakery fined for refusing to make gay marriage cake

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