Direct Discrimination

Shiva Shadi, Partner and Head of Employment at Davis Blank Furniss

In Lee –v- Ashers Baking Company Ltd and Others the Supreme Court has held that it is not directly discriminatory for a Christian baker to refuse to bake a cake containing a message which supports gay marriage.

This case has played out in the media for some time as well as the Courts.   Ashers owners, who are religious Christians, refused to bake a cake with a photo of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street with the wording “support gay marriage”.

Mr Lee, who had asked the bakery to bake the cake, pursued a claim for discrimination through the Northern Irish Courts and was successful up to the Court of Appeal, but has now been overruled by the Supreme Court.

The Court held that the bakers refusal was not because of Mr Lee’s sexual orientation and therefore was not direct discrimination. The Court was also not satisfied that it was associative direct discrimination.

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