21 May, 2015
An employment expert at Forbes Solicitors is warning local businesses that decisions made on the grounds of religious views can still amount to discrimination following the Ashers Bakery case.
The Bakery was sued by a customer following its decision to cancel the order of a cake containing a design that supported gay marriage. It was the Bakery owner's case that he possessed genuine and deeply held religious views that conflicted with message the customer sought to have expressed on the cake. The Court however held that the customer had been discriminated against on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Jonathan Holden, Partner and Head of Employment at Forbes Solicitors, commented, "The Court decided that as the bakery was a business being conducted for profit, not a religious group, it was not above the law on discrimination. The decision shows that even where owners of businesses hold beliefs that are protected by equality legislation, such as religious beliefs, the business itself cannot lawfully discriminate against its customers or employees. This appears to follow the rationale of similar recent cases, including the Supreme Court ruling that Christian B&B owners discriminated against a gay couple who they refused to let stay in a double room."