Final day of Ashers hearing: Concluding arguments from Ashers’ team and NI Attorney General

May 12, 2016

The final day of the Ashers Baking Company appeal hearing included closing arguments from Ashers’ legal team, and the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, John Larkin QC.

David Scoffield QC, representing Ashers’ owners the McArthur family, reiterated that they turned down the order for a cake bearing a pro same-sex marriage campaign slogan because of the message, not the customer.

He added that the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, which is representing the customer, is trying to make the case about Ashers discriminating on the basis of their own religion.

He suggested that if this were true, any actions motivated by someone’s beliefs – whether religious or non-religious – would be discriminatory.

Attorney General John Larkin also made some final remarks. He said that free speech protections include protection from compelled speech and that the McArthur family should not be forced to express a view which they disagree with.

If this is what the law requires, he added, it breaches Northern Ireland constitutional law.

He continued: ‘No one should be forced to be the mouthpiece for someone else’s views when they are opposed to their own – whether in print or in icing sugar.’

The three senior judges hearing the appeal said they will make a ruling as soon as possible. It could be weeks or months until a result is known.

C4M remains hopeful that the outcome will favour the McArthur family and the millions of others who support marriage.