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Another Gay Cake Battle Heads to European Court

Gareth Lee

Ashers bakery refused to cook up a cake showing Bert and Ernie supporting marriage equality.

Europe has its own gay cake legal case, and this one stars Bert and Ernie.

Lawyers for a Northern Ireland activist announced Thursday that they will go to the European Court of Human Rights to challenge whether bakers could refuse to bake a cake based on their opposition to marriage equality, The Guardian reports.

It's not a wedding cake at question. The case has been baking since 2014, when gay man Lee Gareth asked Ashers bakery to make him a cake with the words "Support Marriage Equality," accompanied by a picture of two Sesame Street characters long the subject of speculation.

Ashers general manager Daniel McArthur at the time made clear divine authority allowed him to refuse the business. "This is what God would want us to do," McArthur told The Telegraph.

But a Belfast county court and a court of appeals disagreed and said McArthur was discriminating against Lee based on his sexuality.

However, the United Kingdom's Supreme Court in 2018 overturned the decision and said Ashers was allowed to turn away the business. The nation's high court ruled it was the message of the case that impacted the decision, not Gareth's sexuality.

Now Lee's legal team wants the European Court to weigh in. Phoenix Law lawyers argue the baker was still in the wrong, and that making a product did not imply "the bakery supporting (expressly or implicitly) the message of the cake."

"There is no such a thing as a 'Christian business,'" the firm argues.

Lee told The Guardian this case has never been about getting the bakery employees to agree with the message of a cake.

"I'd fight for the rights of business owners to be able to hold their own religious beliefs. I have my own beliefs. But that's not what my case has ever been about," he said.

"This is about limited companies being somehow able to pick and choose which customers they will serve," he continued. "It's such a dangerous precedent."

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