‘Gay cake\' case calls religion, discrimination and also objects into question


27th October 2016

A case heard this week in Belfast posed more than one legal question, from religious to existential, according to Tayside solicitors firm Miller Hendry.

The case, which is making headlines as the \"gay cake\" scandal, has had lawyers scratching their heads over several issues. Not only did it highlight free speech, religion and discrimination, it also posed a more existential question: Can an object, rather than a person, be the subject of discrimination?

The court ruled against Ashers, a bakery in Belfast run by the McArthur family. The family refused an order to bake a cake with the slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage\', saying it went against their Christian beliefs. The family said their issue was with the cake, not the customer, gay rights activist Gareth Lee. But the Court of Appeal judge said the family had \"directly discriminated\" against the Mr Lee.

The owners, expressing disappointment in the appeal ruling, said the judge\'s decision undermined religious freedom and free speech.

Alan Matthew, partner and employment law expert at Miller Hendry, said of the ruling:

\"The so-called gay cake case has thrown a number of legal issues into the mix: religion, discrimination, and whether alleged discrimination is towards a person or an object. There is a linguistic element to this too. The word ‘gay\' on the message on the cake order is what caused the bakery owners to baulk. They made an association and assumption based on the word, about the person who made the order. And that was discriminatory.\"

For further advice or information on employment law or other legal issues, visit www.millerhendry.co.uk

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Miller Hendry

Miller Hendry is one of the longest established and largest legal firms in Tayside. With 16 partners and 150 staff, through our offices in Dundee, Perth, Crieff, Comrie and Auchterarder we provide a wide range of legal expertise to our clients. As well as a sizeable Estate Agency and Property Services business we have specialists in Court, Private Client, Asset Management and Commercial work.

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