A gay rights activist has seen his case of a pro-LGBTQ cake design rejected by the European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) dropped the case of a Christian couple who refused to bake cakes with pro-LGBTQ messages. This case cost taxpayers more than £250,000 (US$338,390).
On Thursday, the court stated that the case filed by Gareth Lee, a member of the LGBTQ advocacy organization Queer Space, was “Unacceptable” Because the applicant did not invoke his covenant rights at any time during the domestic court proceedings.
“Only relying on domestic law, the applicant deprived the domestic court of the opportunity to resolve any convention issues raised, and instead asked the court to usurp the role of the domestic court,” The Strasbourg-based institution added in a statement.
The case was filed against Daniel and Amy MacArthur, a Christian couple in Belfast who refused to bake cakes for Lee. In 2014, members of Queer Space ordered a cake for £36.50 ($49.41) from the couple, who are the owner of Ashers Bakers.
The bakers refused, saying they did not agree with the design and slogan featuring the Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie “Support same-sex marriage.”
The MacArthurs’ refusal triggered a seven-year legal action brought by Lee, and the Northern Ireland Equality Commission cost £251,000 (US$339,740). Ashers Bakers was named after an Old Testament character and was supported by the Christian Association, which paid them £250,000 (US$338,400) in legal fees.
In 2018, the case reached the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the baker. Li subsequently submitted his complaint to the European Court of Justice.
The Chief Minister of Northern Ireland, Paul Given, supported the European ruling on Thursday, saying he was pleased to see the ruling of the British Supreme Court confirmed. “It confirms the decision of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom that the matter should not be brought to court in the first place,” He said.
The Christian Association says this is “Good news for freedom of speech, good news for Christians.”
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