Controversial Christian bakery will no longer make wedding cakes

Controversial Christian bakery will no longer make wedding cakes

The Christian-owned bakery found to have discriminated against a gay man is limiting its services.

Ashers Baking Company will only provide birthday and baby-related celebration cakes, according to the firm's general manager.

Daniel McArthur said: "Due to the recent legal developments we have decided to limit our celebration cake range to certain birthday and baby-related celebration cakes while we consider our policy and talk with our lawyers."

The decision comes after a judge at Belfast County Court ruled that Ashers had acted unlawfully by declining an order from gay rights activist Gareth Lee last year.

Mr Lee, a member of the LGBT advocacy group Queer Space, wanted a cake featuring Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie with the slogan Support Gay Marriage.

It had been ordered for a private function in Bangor, Co Down, to mark International Anti Homophobia Day last May.

Mr Lee, who paid in full when placing the order at Ashers' Belfast branch, said he was left feeling like a lesser person when he was told his request could not be fulfilled.

The publicly funded Northern Ireland Equality Commission - which has a statutory duty to monitor the region's anti-discrimination laws - brought the legal action on his behalf.

Ashers, which is owned by the McArthur family, employs almost 80 people across six branches and delivers throughout the UK and Ireland.

The family said they opposed same sex marriage on religious grounds and could not produce the cake with a message that was contrary to their deeply held Christian beliefs.

In her judgement, delivered on Tuesday, District Judge Isobel Brownlie found the bakers had discriminated against Mr Lee on grounds of his sexual orientation and his political beliefs.

Ashers was ordered to pay agreed damages of £500.

Mr McArthur said the firm's website was being re-worked to reflect the changes.

He added: "The department represents a small part of the business and no jobs will be impacted."

The high profile case has divided public opinion in Belfast and beyond.

Throughout the case, the McArthurs, who are considering an appeal, were supported by the Christian Institute which paid their defence costs.