The UK’s leading charity for LGBTQ+ rights has criticised the European Court of Human Rights for leaving “the door open to legal uncertainty” after it dismissed a filing from an activist over a seven-year discrimination dispute.
The decision to dismiss the case of Gareth Lee, who took legal action against a Belfast bakery which refused to decorate a cake with the slogan “support gay marriage”, was “a backwards step for equality”, said the Stonewall charity.
Lee initially took legal action against Ashers Bakery back in 2014, when the Christian-run bakery declined to complete his request after suggesting that the slogan was not in line with their religious beliefs.
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“Human rights belong to people, not businesses,” the official Stonewall Twitter account wrote. “No business should discriminate against their customers, and no discriminatory behaviour should be held up by equality law. Today’s decision leaves the door open for legal uncertainty across the UK and causes continued unease for our communities.”
Lee has maintained his view that the bakery’s refusal was an act of discrimination on the grounds of sexual and political belief. Same-sex marriage was legalised in Northern Ireland in 2020.
Stonewall’s statement has received mixed responses from their Twitter followers. One user replies: “As much as it sucks, I understand their reasoning.” Another responds: “That’s still discrimination.”