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Christian bakers lose 'gay cake' row appeal

Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Baking Company outside Belfast High Court Credit: PA

A pair of Christian bakers found to have discriminated against a gay man by refusing to make a cake bearing a pro-gay marriage slogan have lost their appeal against the ruling.

Gareth Lee, a member of the LGBT advocacy group Queer Space, had tried to order a cake featuring Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie with the phrase "Support Gay Marriage" for a private function marking International Day Against Homophobia.

Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie. Credit: PA

Mr Lee paid the £36.50 cost in full at Ashers bakery, but was phoned two days later and told the company could not fulfill his order.

Owners of the Belfast-based bakery, Daniel and Amy McArthur, said they could not make the cake as the message went against their religious beliefs.

Mr McArthur, the company's general manager, insisted Mr Lee's sexuality was never an issue, the problem was only to do with the message.

However, Mr Lee claimed the episode left him feeling like a lesser person.

Gareth Lee outside Belfast High Court. Credit: PA

Last year, the pair - who are Christians - were found to have breached equality legislation following a court case in Belfast.

At the time District Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled that religious beliefs could not dictate the law and ordered the firm to pay damaged of £500.

Speaking after Monday's judgement, Northern Ireland's Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said Ashers had directly discriminated.

He rejected the argument that the bakery would be endorsing the slogan by baking the cake.

"The fact that a baker provides a cake for a particular team or portrays witches on a Halloween cake does not indicate any support for either," he said.

Throughout the legal battle the McArthur's were supported by The Christian Institute, which organised public rallies and garnered financial backing for the case.