The European Court of Human Rights has ruled on a long-running gay cake.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that a complaint of discrimination against a gay rights activist after a Christian bakery refused to make him a cake was inadmissible.

The United Kingdom Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that Gareth Lee had not been discriminated against when Ashers Bakery in Belfast refused to make a icing cake with the slogan “Gay Marriage Support”.

Mr Lee referred the case to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, arguing that the Supreme Court had not given him due weight under the European Convention on Human Rights.

But in a written decision on Thursday, the ECtHR stated that Mr Lee failed to “exhaust domestic resources” in the long-running case of the so-called “gay cake.”

The decision states: “The arguments of the Convention must be raised explicitly or in substance before the domestic authorities. The applicant did not invoke his rights under the Convention at any point in the domestic proceedings.

“By relying solely on national law, the complainant deprived national courts of the possibility of dealing with any issues raised in the Convention and instead asked the court to usurp the role of national courts.

“As he did not exhaust the domestic remedies, the application was inadmissible.”

The Christian Institute, which supported the owners of the Ashers bakery, welcomed today’s ECtHR ruling as “good news for freedom of speech, good news for Christians.”

However, the Belfast-based Human Rights Group, the Committee on Justice, described that the ECHR was not able to deal with the problem “technically”, which is A “missed opportunity” to clarify the law.

The high-level controversy first erupted when Mr Lee, a member of the LGBT law group QueerSpace, ordered a cake in May 2014 from £ 36.50 from Ashers Bakery, run by Daniel and Amy McArthur.

Daniel McArthur and his wife Amy, owners of Ashers Bakery, pictured in 2018

Daniel McArthur and his wife Amy, owners of Ashers Bakery, pictured in 2018

Belfast bakers refused to make a cake decorated with the words “Gay Marriage Support” (pictured: Cake with a similar design, made by another bakery)

The cake featuring Sesame Street puppets by Bert and Ernie was intended for a private event on the occasion of International Day Against Homophobia.

The ‘gay cake case’ has been running for eight years

Gay Cakes Timeline

  • May 9, 2014: Gareth Lee asks Ashers Bakery for cake decorated with “Gay Marriage Support” slogan
  • May 12, 2014: Owner Daniel McArthur calls Mr. Lee not to print the cake because it runs counter to their beliefs. Mr. Lee later gets another bakery to make a cake
  • June 26, 2014: Equality Commission sends a letter to bakers claiming they have acted illegally
  • October 27, 2014: The commission told the McArthurs that they also violated the laws on political and religious discrimination
  • November 7, 2014: Legal proceedings have been initiated against bakers
  • March 26, 27 and 30, 2015: The case is pending before the Laganside Courts in Belfast
  • May 19, 2015: The court ruled that the bakery had violated discrimination on the grounds of political and sexual orientation and ordered her to pay £ 500 in damages.
  • 9-12 May 2015: Ashers’ appeal is pending before the Belfast Court of Appeal
  • October 24, 2016: The Court of Appeal ruled against the bakery
  • 1-2 May 2018: Belfast Supreme Court hearing
  • October 10, 2018: Bakers win appeal against discrimination lawsuits, but Mr Lee refers case to European Court of Human Rights
  • January 6, 2022: The ECtHR ruled that the case was “inadmissible” because Mr Lee had not exhausted domestic remedies

The order was accepted and paid in full, but two days later the Christian owners of the company called that it could not proceed due to the requested message.

Mr Lee, a member of the LGBT law group QueerSpace, opened a legal case supported by the Northern Ireland Equality Commission, claiming that there was discrimination based on his sexuality.

The case was settled in several courts, eventually reaching the UK Supreme Court in 2018, which ruled that Mr Lee had not been discriminated against when Ashers Bakery refused to bake a cake with a slogan in support of gay marriage.

Mr Lee then referred the case to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, arguing that the Supreme Court had not given him due weight under the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg today ruled that the case was “inadmissible” when it found that Mr Lee had “exhausted domestic remedies” in the case and had not invoked his rights under the Convention at any time in the national proceedings.

Mr. Lee had already heard hearings in the District Court and the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland in 2015 and 2016, but the Ashers owners – backed by the Christian Institute – challenged these decisions in the Supreme Court.

In 2018, five judges unanimously decided not to discriminate against the customer. The then President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale, said that the bakers did not refuse to fulfill the order because of the customer’s sexual orientation, but because they objected to the ‘message on the cake’.

Mr Lee then referred the case to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, arguing that the Supreme Court had not given him due weight under the European Convention on Human Rights.

He claims that the decision of the United Kingdom Supreme Court to dismiss his action for breach of the legal obligation to provide services infringed his rights and was not proportionate.

The then-Chief Justice of the United Kingdom, Lady Hale, said in a previous hearing that the McArthur family held the religious belief that “the only form of marriage that is in harmony with the Bible and acceptable to God is between a man and a woman.”

She said: “As for Mr Lee’s allegations of sexual discrimination, the bakers did not refuse to comply with his order because of his sexual orientation.

“They would refuse to bake such a cake for every customer, regardless of their sexual orientation.

“Their objection was to the message on the cake, not to the personal characteristics of Mr. Lee or anyone else he was associated with.”

In 2018, the UK Supreme Court ruled that Northern Ireland gay rights activist Gareth Lee had not been discriminated against.

In 2018, the UK Supreme Court ruled that Northern Ireland gay rights activist Gareth Lee had not been discriminated against.

The high-level controversy first erupted when Mr Lee, a member of the LGBT law group QueerSpace, ordered a cake in May 2014 from £ 36.50 from Ashers Bakery, run by Daniel and Amy McArthur.

The high-level controversy first erupted when Mr Lee, a member of the LGBT law group QueerSpace, ordered a cake in May 2014 from £ 36.50 from Ashers Bakery, run by Daniel and Amy McArthur.

Mr Lee said at the time that he refused to bake the cake and felt like a “second-class citizen.”

The McArthurs were told they had not declined the order because of the person who had made it, but because of the message required on the cake.

The Christian Institute welcomed the ECHR’s decision, saying it was the “right result”.

A spokesman for Simon Calvert said: “The UK Supreme Court has long considered human rights arguments and upheld the McArthur rights to freedom of expression and religion.

“It was disappointing to see another attempt to undermine these rights, so it is a relief that this attempt has failed.

“It surprises me that someone would like to reverse a verdict that protects gay business owners from being forced to promote opinions they do not share, as well as protecting Christian business owners.

“The decision of October 2018 by the five most respected and experienced judges in the country was welcomed by lawyers, commentators and freedom of speech experts from across the spectrum.

“Everyone knew the consequences for freedom of speech and religion if the decision was made against Ashers.”

“That’s good news for freedom of speech, good news for Christians, and good news for the McArthurs.”

The Belfast-based Justice Administration (CAJ) called the ECtHR’s “gay cake” judgment a “missed opportunity”.

Daniel Holder, Deputy Director of the CAJ, said: “The European Court of Human Rights has not been able to deal with this issue technically, it is a wasted opportunity to clarify its case law on sexual orientation and discrimination in the private sector. , especially when it is said to relate to the message rather than the customer.

“We believe this leaves ambiguity, with individuals and organizations across Europe actively promoting gay rights being particularly vulnerable to commercial businesses that refuse to provide services such as poster, flyer, website design, etc., through a waiver of non-discrimination. laws based on “it’s not you, it’s your message.”

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