Longtime LGBT advocate and actor Patrick Stewart has sided with Christian bakers in Northern Ireland who refused to write the words, “support gay marriage” on a cake.
"It was the actual words on the cake they objected to," Stewart told BBC's "Newsnight" Thursday. "I would support their rights to say, 'No, this is personally offensive to my beliefs, I will not do it.'"
Ashers Baking Company was found guilty of discrimination and ordered to pay $978 to Gareth Lee, who had asked them to bake a cake with Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie underneath the words, “Support Gay Marriage” for a private function marking International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia last year. After initially accepting the order, the bakery called Lee two days later to cancel.
“Finally I found myself on the side of the bakers,” said Stewart, who starred in the “Star Trek” TV show and the “X-Men” movie. “It was not because this was a gay couple they objected. It was not because they were going to be celebrating some kind of marriage. It was the actual words on the cake they objected to, they found them offensive.”
Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled that the McArthurs, who own the bakery, directly discriminated against Lee, “for which there can be no justification.”
“The defendants are not a religious organisation. They are conducting a business for profit and, notwithstanding their genuine religious beliefs, there are no exceptions available under the 2006 regulations which apply to this case,” Brownlie added.
“Our issue was with the message on the cake, not with the customer, and we didn’t know what the sexual orientation of Mr. Lee was, and it wasn’t relevant either,” Ashers general manager Daniel McArthur said.