European court rejects case against bakery that refused to bake cake with statement in support of gay marriage

Bolo encomendado pelo autor da ação deveria ter imagem de personagens do programa infantil “Vila Sésamo” e a mensagem “Apoie o casamento gay”

2022The European Court of Human Rights denied this week an appeal filed against bakery owners in Northern Ireland who refused to bake a cake with a message supporting same-sex marriage. The seven-judge panel rejected the case because it understood that the plaintiff had not exhausted the possibilities of appeal in the UK Courts.

The legal dispute began in 2013, when Gareth Lee, resident of Belfast linked to QueerSpace, an organization for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the transgender community in Northern Ireland, ordered a cake for an activists event after the Northern Irish regional assembly rejected for the third time the legalization of same-sex marriage (the change would be implemented in the country only in 2020).

2022The order, made at the Ashers bakery, stipulated that the cake should have an image of Bert and Ernie, characters from the children’s television program “Vila Sesamo” , the QueerSpace logo, and the message “Support gay marriage.”

2020According to information from the court, the next day those responsible for the The bakery called Lee and said they would not bake the cake because they were running a “Christian business.” They apologized and returned the money.

2022Lee then filed a lawsuit against to Ashers, alleging violation of legal duty to provide goods, facilities and services. The bakery administrators claimed in the process the rights provided for in articles 9 (on freedom of thought, conscience and religion) and (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The local court and an appeals court agreed Lee was right, but the UK Supreme Court overturned the decisions, finding that the bakery owners did not refuse to bake the cake because the plaintiff is gay, but because they were opposed to being forced to promote a message with which they deeply disagreed.

2022 Lee appealed in April 2020 to the European Court of Human Rights, which this week understood that the applicant it has not invoked its rights under the European Convention at any point in its proceedings in the United Kingdom. Thus, the demand was denied.

2022 In a statement released after the In the decision, Lee lamented the fact that the “core issues” of the process were not analyzed and judged “because of a technicality”.

“None of us are expected to have to know the beliefs of a business owner before walking into a store or paying for services,” he said. “This case highlighted the challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ people in Northern Ireland. I will continue to support all laws that protect and give rights to all people equally.”

2022 On the other hand, the decision of the European Court was praised by the Evangelical Alliance, a Christian organization that supported Ashers during the process.

“This case was about freedom of conscience, expression and belief, and whether someone can be forced to create a message they deeply disagree with,” said director Peter Lynas , in an interview with the BBC. “This decision protects everyone against forced speech.”

2022In2018, the United States Supreme Court acquitted Colorado confectioner Jack Phillips of Colorado on the felony charge of discrimination because he refused creating a custom cake for a same-sex marriage. Last year, Phillips was also sentenced to pay a fine for refusing to bake a cake, this time for a transgender woman. He appealed the decision.

On 2013, a couple was fined US$ 10 a thousand in Oregon for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. The case also reached the US Supreme Court, which in 2014 resubmitted the case to an Oregon appeals court for reconsideration on the grounds in the decision of the Colorado lawsuit.