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Northern Ireland Bakery Found Guilty of Discrimination Against Gay Customer

The bakery refused to frost a cake with the slogan "Support Gay Marriage."

Asher's Baking Co.

A small victory in the fight for gay rights, by way of Northern Ireland: A judge in Belfast has ruled that a Christian-owned bakery's refusal to "make a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan" classifies as discrimination, reports the BBC.

Gay marriage activist Gareth Lee "ordered a cake with the slogan 'Support Gay Marriage' featuring the characters Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street," says Buzzfeed. When Ashers Baking Co., located in County Antrim, refused to fill the order, Lee took them to court with the help of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. The judge ultimately ruled that the bakery, as a business-for-profit and not a religious group, "was not exempt from discrimination law." A previously agreed upon amount of £500 ($775) in damages was awarded to Lee, who plans to donate it to charity.

A similarly charged situation arose in Denver earlier this year when a bakery refused to decorate a cake with an anti-LGBT slogan; the customer wanted it emblazoned with the phrase "God hates homosexuality." After a complaint was filed with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, the agency determined the bakery was within their rights to do so.

Meanwhile to the south, the separate nation of the Republic of Ireland could be the very first country to officially legalize same-sex marriage with a vote scheduled for Friday. As NPR points out, the nation's conservative Catholic history "makes Ireland a less-than-obvious place for same-sex marriage but the polls indicate the Yes voters are favored by a wide majority." If said referendum passes, bakeries may be forced to get on board whether they like it or not.