‘Gay cake’ case may be referred to UK’s supreme court

Northern Ireland’s Attorney-General intervenes in legal row involving Christian bakers

Northern Ireland's Court of Appeal in Belfast will hear applications next Tuesday to have the so-called "gay cake" case appealed to the UK's supreme court, it was confirmed on Wednesday.

The McArthur family, which runs the bakery at the centre of the case, is seeking to ascertain from the Court of Appeal whether it can challenge at the UK supreme court the ruling that it discriminated against gay rights activist Gareth Lee.

Separately, at the combined hearing, the North's Attorney-General John Larkin is seeking to appeal elements of the case to the UK supreme court on the basis that the judgment may be in contravention of devolution legislation.

“I can confirm that an application for leave to appeal to the supreme court has been listed for hearing on November 22nd,” said a spokeswoman for Mr Larkin.

Mr Larkin’s spokeswoman said that in seeking to further appeal the case, the Attorney-General had identified “a number of devolution issues”.

Previously, Mr Larkin had raised questions about the validity of the devolved legislation in Northern Ireland under which the Ashers Baking Company was found guilty of discrimination for refusing to bake a cake featuring Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie and a "Support Gay Marriage" slogan.

The Court of Appeal is also expected to be asked on Tuesday to decide on the matter of the costs in the case, which are estimated at about £180,000 (about €210,000).

As the McArthurs lost the case, they could be made liable for all legal costs.


Simon Calvert, of the British Christian Institute, which supports the McArthurs, said the family wanted to determine if it had a right to appeal the case to the UK supreme court, or whether in UK law it had “exhausted” all appeal avenues.

He said that lawyers for the McArthur family have written to the Court of Appeal asking for confirmation that no direct route of appeal to the supreme court was available.

Mr Calvert said such an application was necessary so that, if the family so chose, it could then appeal the judgment to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

He said this procedure was required because the European court would only take an appeal if “all domestic remedies had been exhausted”.

He said that the family had not decided whether it would take the case to Strasbourg.