A gay rights activist has seen his case over a pro-LGBTQ cake design dismissed by the ECHR
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has dropped a case against a Christian couple who refused to bake a cake with a pro-LGBTQ message on it. The case has cost the taxpayer more than £250,000 ($338,390).
On Thursday, the court said the case brought forward by Gareth Lee, a member of Queer Space, an LGBTQ advocacy group, was “inadmissible” as the applicant had not invoked his convention rights at any point during domestic court proceedings.
“By relying solely on domestic law, the applicant had deprived the domestic courts of the opportunity to address any convention issues raised, instead asking the court to usurp the role of the domestic courts,” the Strasbourg-based institution added in a statement.
The case was brought against a Christian couple in Belfast, Daniel and Amy McArthur, who refused to bake a cake for Lee. The Queer Space member had ordered a £36.50 ($49.41) cake from the couple, who were the owners of Ashers Bakers, in 2014.
The bakers refused, stating that they disagreed with the design which featured the Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie and the slogan “Support Gay Marriage.”
The McArthurs’ refusal prompted a seven-year legal case, brought forward by Lee, which cost the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland £251,000 ($339,740). Ashers Bakers, which takes its name from an Old Testament figure, was supported by the Christian Institute, which covered their £250,000 ($338,400) legal costs.
In 2018, the case reached the UK Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the bakers. Lee then referred his complaint to the European court.
Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan supported the European ruling on Thursday, stating he was glad to see the UK Supreme Court’s decision affirmed. “It validates the decision of the UK Supreme Court, which was to say that this never should have been brought to court in the first place,” he stated.
The Christian Institute said it was “good news for free speech, good news for Christians.”