The Asher’s cake decision remains, and rightfully so
This is not an attack on freedom of speech – this is an legal precedent defending it
Social media has been abuzz with the news that the verdict of discrimination in the infamous ‘gay cake’ row stands after a failed appeal. Asher’s Daniel McArthur said he was “extremely disappointed” adding that it undermined “democratic freedom, religious freedom and free speech”.
He said: “If equality law means people can be punished for politely refusing to support other people’s causes then equality law needs to change. We had served Mr Lee before and we would be happy to serve him again. We have always said it was not about the customer, it was about the message.” However the business is not named Asher’s Christian Bakery, so the beliefs of the owners of the bakery should be completely irrelevant.
Likewise if you went to a pizzeria with Islamic owners, you would still expect pepperoni on your pizza if you ordered it, despite the fact eating pork goes against the teachings of Islam. And you deserve to be sold it, unless the pizzeria clearly states on that it is a halal pizzeria.
It was Mr. Lee, who was denied his freedom of speech when Asher’s told him he couldn’t express his beliefs on his cake. When you offer a public service that advertises zero religious context on your signs or windows, you don’t get to pick and choose when you stand by your religious views, and when not. Something which the judge presiding over the case alludes to when pointing out the bakery had no problem baking cakes with witches on it for Halloween.
When a business opens their doors (and their tills), and their services to the public, they don’t get to close their minds. When you state you’ll print any message on a cake, you don’t get to refuse to do so just because you disagree with what the icing on the cake says. When within the opening times, your mind must be open to the views of customers. We’ve come a long way since the days of declining custom to those who are different than us, and it’s good to see the verdict stand in the Asher’s case to stop us slowly returning to those days.