Ian Payne 4am - 7am
European Court throws out 'gay cake' discrimination case
6 January 2022, 09:40 | Updated: 6 January 2022, 10:52
The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a complaint by a gay rights activist that he was discriminated against when a bakery in Belfast refused to make him a cake supporting gay marriage.
Activist Gareth Lee has claimed that he was discriminated against when the Christian owners of a Belfast bakery refused to make him a cake iced with the slogan "Support Gay Marriage."
He took his fight to the European Courts of Human Rights (ECHR) after the UK's Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that he had not been discriminated against.
But his complaint has now been ruled inadmissible by the ECHR. The ECHR said Mr Lee had failed to "exhaust domestic remedies" in his case.
In 2018, the UK Supreme Court ruled that Mr Lee was not discriminated against when Ashers bakery refused to make him a cake with the slogan supporting gay marriage.
Mr Lee then referred the case to the ECHR, claiming that the Supreme Court failed to give appropriate weight to him under the European Convention of Human Rights.
The ECHR said in its ruling: "Convention arguments must be raised explicitly or in substance before the domestic authorities."
"The applicant had not invoked his Convention rights at any point in the domestic proceedings.
"By relying solely on domestic law, the applicant had deprived the domestic courts of the opportunity to address any Convention issues raised, instead asking the court to usurp the role of the domestic courts.
"Because he had failed to exhaust domestic remedies, the application was inadmissible."
The Christian Institute welcomed the ruling. Spokesman Simon Calvert said: "This is the right result.
"The UK Supreme Court engaged at length with the human rights arguments in this case and upheld the McArthurs' rights to freedom of expression and religion.
"It was disappointing to see another attempt to undermine those rights, so it is a relief that the attempt has failed.
"I'm surprised anyone would want to overturn a ruling that protects gay business owners from being forced to promote views they don't share, just as much as it protects Christian business owners.
"The ruling in October 2018 by five of the country's most distinguished and experienced judges was welcomed by lawyers, commentators and free speech experts from across the spectrum.
"They all knew of the implications for freedom of speech and religion, had the decision gone against Ashers.
"This is good news for free speech, good news for Christians, and good news for the McArthurs."