Peter Tatchell has defended the Supreme Court decision ruling in favour of a Christian bakery which refused to write a pro-gay message on a cake.
Back in 2015, the Belfast High Court ruled that husband and wife Daniel and Amy McArthur – who own the Ashers bakery – discriminated against a customer after refusing to bake him a cake with ‘Support Gay Marriage’ on it.
When they appealed to Belfast Crown Court in 2016, they lost their appeal. However, they decided to take their appeal to the UK Supreme Court and in a landmark ruling the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the couple.
Now human rights campaigner and activist Peter Tatchell has defended the ruling and said it is a “victory for freedom of expression”.
He said: “This verdict is a victory for freedom of expression.
“As well as meaning that Ashers cannot be legally forced to aid the promotion of same-sex marriage, it also means that gay bakers cannot be compelled by law to decorate cakes with anti-gay marriage slogans.
“Businesses can now lawfully refuse a customer’s request to emblazon a political message if they have a conscientious objection to it.
“This includes the right to refuse messages that are sexist, xenophobic or anti-gay, which is a good thing.
“Although I profoundly disagree with Ashers opposition to marriage equality, in a free society neither they nor anyone else should be forced to facilitate a political idea that they oppose.
“The ruling does not permit anyone to discriminate against LGBT people. Such discrimination rightly remains unlawful.
“Ashers did not discriminate against the customer, Gareth Lee, because he was gay. They objected to the message he wanted on the cake: Support gay marriage.'
“Discrimination against LGBT people is wrong. But in a free society, people should be able to discriminate against ideas that they disagree with.
“I am glad the court upheld this important liberal principle.
“If the original judgement against Ashers had been upheld it would have meant that a Muslim printer could be obliged to publish cartoons of Mohammed and a Jewish printer could be forced to publish a book that propagates Holocaust denial.
“It could have also encouraged far right extremists to demand that bakers and other service providers facilitate the promotion of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim opinions.
“That would have set a dangerous, authoritarian precedent that could have been open to serious abuse.
“Discrimination against people should be illegal but not discrimination against ideas and opinions.”