Ashers case day 2: Attorney General says it was about the message not the person

May 11, 2016

During the second day of court proceedings for the Ashers Baking Company appeal, Northern Ireland’s Attorney General raised concerns over the application of the laws used against them.

John Larkin QC put a halt to the appeal in February, when it was originally due to be heard.

He intervened saying the laws used against the bakery fall foul of Northern Ireland’s constitutional law.

In Belfast’s Court of Appeal yesterday, Larkin told the judges that the case is about ‘expression’.

“I say very clearly, if it was a case where Mr Lee had been refused some of Ashers’ excellent chocolate eclairs because he was gay or perceived to be gay I would be standing on the other side of the court”.

“But it’s not about that, it’s about expression and whether it’s lawful under Northern Ireland constitutional law for Ashers to be forced… to articulate or express or say a political message which is at variance with their political views and in particular their religious views.”

Larkin added that Gareth Lee, the customer who requested the cake, was able to ask another bakery to help him express his opinion.

The AG also stated: “Although the case for the Plaintiff is put pleasantly and with every appearance of sweet reasonableness, what cannot be disguised is that the Defendants are being compelled, on pain of civil liability, to burn a pinch of incense at the altar of a god they do not worship.”

C4M agrees wholeheartedly with Mr Larkin. This case is about freedom of expression, which must include the right not to express views you don’t agree with.

Society at large needs to realise that opposition to same-sex marriage is a democratic freedom. Nobody should be forced to endorse or promote it if it conflicts with their own moral or ethical code.

We hope that the judges rule in favour of the McArthur family, thereby setting a clear precedent for future cases.