British court to hear 'gay' cake arguments
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom will hold a hearing in Belfast in a case over whether or not a homosexual can force a Christian baker to produce a cake with a pro-homosexual message.
As with the Jack Phillips case before the U.S. Supreme Court, the issue is whether homosexuals can use equal-treatment or non-discrimination laws to force a Christian baker to promote a message the Bible declares is sinful.
Both bakers were prosecuted after homosexuals filed “discrimination” complaints, and both have been moved up to the highest court in each land.
The U.K.’s Supreme Court announced it would hold hearings in the case Lee vs. Ashers Baking Company at the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast for four days beginning April 30.
The court said it will decide “whether a bakery directly discriminated against a customer on the grounds of sexual orientation when the bakery said they could not fulfill an order for a cake with ‘Support Gay Marriage’ written on it because of their religious beliefs.”
The Christian Institute, which has been supporting Ashers Bakery, noted five of the U.K.’s most senior judges will hear the arguments, including Lady Hale, president of the court; Deputy President Lord Mance; Lord Kerr; Lord Hodge; and Lady Black.
“The ‘gay cake’ case began in 2014 when volunteer LGBT activist Gareth Lee asked for a cake to be decorated with the slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage,'” the Christian Institute said. “The McArthur family, who own the bakery, recognized that printing the campaign slogan would go against their sincerely-held Christian beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
The bakery declined the order, and the government sued.
In May 2015, a district judge claimed Ashers broke sexual-orientation and political- discrimination laws by declining the order.
An appeals court agreed, even though the judges acknowledge the bakery did not refuse the service because of Lee’s homosexuality but because of the coerced message.
Institute spokesman Simon Calvert said earlier: “The Supreme Court does not consider every case which is brought to its attention, and our legal team has already started to prepare for the crucial hearings which lie ahead.”
The institute said John Larkin, the attorney general for Northern Ireland, will be making arguments in the case.
He told judges at the lower court that if the county court ruling against Ashers was corrrect, the laws used against the bakery violate Northern Ireland’s constitutional law, which assures freedom of speech and religion.
He said at the time, “I say very clearly, if it was a case where Mr. Lee had been refused some of Ashers excellent chocolate eclairs because he was gay or perceived to be gay I would be standing on the other side of the court.
“But it’s not about that, it’s about expression and whether it’s lawful under Northern Ireland constitutional law for Ashers to be forced … to articulate or express or say a political message which is at variance with their political views and in particular their religious views.”
Larkin also had warned the lower courts that the local regulation violated the European Convention on Human Rights.
The bakery owners even earned the support of homosexual activist Peter Tatchell, who wrote in the London Guardian that while he originally condemned Ashers, he has changed his mind.
“Much as I wish to defend the gay community, I also want to defend freedom of conscience, expression and religion,” he wrote.
“It pains me to say this, as a long-time supporter of the struggle for LGBT equality in Northern Ireland, where same-sex marriage and gay blood donors remain banned. The equality laws are intended to protect people against discrimination. A business providing a public service has a legal duty to do so without discrimination based on race, gender, faith and sexuality.
“However, the court erred by ruling that [Gareth] Lee was discriminated against because of his sexual orientation and political opinions. … His cake request was refused not because he was gay, but because of the message he asked for. There is no evidence that his sexuality was the reason Ashers declined his order,” he wrote.
In the U.S. case, the state of Colorado has contended in its case against Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Phillips that Bible verses are not “closely associated” with religion.
That argument came up when the baker’s lawyers pointed out that while he was being punished for refusing to create a message that violated his faith, three other bakers were not punished for refusing to create a message that included Bible verses.
“By exonerating three cake artists who declined religious messages opposing same-sex marriage, the commission has contravened the Free Exercise Clause’s neutrality and general applicability requirements,” says a brief filed on Phillips’ behalf.
It was the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that decided Phillips, whose case is to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court Dec. 5, must go to a reindoctrination program to change his beliefs.
Colorado claims it has the right to impose a “public accommodation” law that overrules the First Amendment rights of bakers and others with artistic talents, such as graphic designers, filmmakers, photographers, fine-art painters and calligraphers.
“They insist that public-accommodation laws override the freedom of for-profit speech creators who serve everyone but object to particular messages that clients ask them to express. No matter the form of speech, the message requested, or the protected classification at issue, [Colorado] would empower governments to compel expression,” Phillips’ lawyers said.
The First Amendment, however, doesn’t allow that, contends the Alliance Defending Freedom.
The state’s antagonism to Christian beliefs became evident at the outset of the case, when, while addressing a complaint from two homosexuals who wanted Phillips to promote their lifestyle, a member of the state’s Civil Rights Commission, Diann Rice, publicly exhibited bias against him during a hearing, comparing him to a Nazi.
“I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting,” Rice said during consideration of Phillips’ case. “Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others.”
( Source )