There was no discrimination based on sexual orientation
In a free society, people have a right to follow their conscience
London, UK – 6 January 2022
Responding to today’s European Court of Human Rights ruling against Gareth Lee over the Ashers Bakery case, LGBT+ and human right campaigner, Peter Tatchell, said:
“I strongly disagree with Asher’s opposition to same-sex marriage and have great sympathy with Gareth Lee and the LGBT+ community in Northern Ireland.
“However, Asher’s did not refuse to serve Gareth and did not discriminate against him because of his sexual orientation. They refused to decorate his cake with a political message in support of marriage equality.
“In a free society, and under UK equality laws, no one can be compelled to facilitate political views with which they disagree.
“If the judgement had gone the other way, a gay baker could have been forced by law to accede to requests to decorate cakes with messages opposing LGBT+ equality.
“Discrimination against people is always wrong but discrimination against political messages is legitimate freedom of expression and valid conscientious objection.
“I support protests against Ashers over their hostility to LGBT+ equality but I cannot endorse legal compulsion to require them to promote a message with which they profoundly disagree.
“Ashers advertised that they would make a cake with whatever message the customer wanted. Instead of the legal case bought by Gareth Lee, Ashers should have been sued for breach of contract after they refused to decorate Gareth’s cake with his requested message supporting gay marriage.”