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Antigay North Irish Bakery Closes Branch After U.K. Supreme Court Win


A fire has forced a business known for its "gay cake" case to shutter one of its locations.

Ashers Baking Co., based in Northern Ireland, has experienced a loss after making headlines earlier this month; the U.K. Supreme Court sided with the business's right to refuse to bake a "gay cake."

Lower courts had found that the bakery had discriminated against Gareth Lee for being gay when it refused his order for a cake decorated with Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie plus the words "support gay marriage." The high court disagreed and reversed these rulings.

"The bakers could not refuse to supply their goods to Mr. Lee because he is a gay man, but that is quite different from obliging them to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed," the panel of five judges wrote in the October decision.

But not everything is coming up roses for Ashers. The baked-goods chain is set to close its Belfast City Centre location due to poor business, which was due in part to a conflagration.

"It simply comes down to the figures," general manager Daniel McArthur told The Independent. "We decided not to renew the lease. Belfast City Centre isn't busy enough -- our other shops are much busier. It's been planned for some time and I am pleased to say there will be no job losses."

The reported reason for the closure is that a recent fire at Primark, an Irish clothing store, destroyed a nearby historic building and thus deterred shopping in the area. After the blaze, a major street has been closed to cars and pedestrians while an assessment of the damages is being made.

Earlier this year in the United States, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips won a victory at the Supreme Court in a similar case involving his refusal to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

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