The ECHR declares the dispute over LGBT cakes from a Christian bakery inadmissible – JURIST

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Thursday issued a final ruling that a complaint about a bakery’s refusal to fulfill a cake order defending LGBTQIA + rights is inadmissible.

The dispute arose in 2014 following a third failed attempt to legalize same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. Gareth Lee ordered and paid for a cake from Ashers Baking Company. The cake was to read “Support Gay Marriage”, with the logo of the group run by volunteers Queer Space, and include an edible image of Bert and Ernie, cartoon characters from The Muppets.

Lee received a refund on the cancellation of his order. Ashers Baking Company explained that as a company that adheres to the Christian faith, it cannot bake the cake and thus promote LGBTQIA + rights.

Lee pointed out that Ashers Baking Company did not specify when placing his order that owners could decline to fulfill orders based on their personal beliefs about the cake design. The owners of Ashers Baking Company argued that their decision was acceptable because they enjoy freedom of religion under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Lee told local media:

My post supported the campaign for same-sex marriage which was ultimately successful and I am delighted. I am very frustrated that the fundamental issues have not been dealt with fairly [analyzed] and judged because of a technicality. None of us should have to find out the beliefs of business owners before entering their store or paying for their services.

The ECHR ruled that Lee’s complaint was inadmissible following a UK Supreme Court ruling in 2018 which found Ashers Baking Company did not discriminate against Lee. This decision was based on the fact that Ashers Baking Company refused to fulfill Lee’s order due to the message it was broadcasting. Namely that Northern Ireland should legalize same-sex marriage. Therefore, in the court’s view, Lee himself had not been discriminated against on the basis of his sexuality.

Northern Ireland legalized same-sex marriage in 2020.

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