Breaking news: Ashers Baking heads for Strasbourg

The BBC reports that the judgment in Lee v Ashers Baking Company Ltd & Ors (Northern Ireland) [2018] UKSC 49 is to be appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. Regular readers will recall that the Supreme Court held that there had been no associative discrimination because “In a nutshell, the objection was to the message and not to any particular person or persons” [34] and that the McArthurs’ objection had not been to Mr Lee personally but to being required to promote the message on the cake: “The less favourable treatment was afforded to the message, not to the man” and Ashers had been quite prepared to serve Mr Lee in other ways [47]. We noted the judgment here.

According to the report on the BBC website, Mr Lee’s solicitors argue that the Supreme Court failed to give appropriate weight to his Convention rights and that “The Supreme Court ruling blurred the line, creates legal uncertainty for all of us in Northern Ireland, and the ECHR is the appropriate place to clarify this issue.” Further, there is no such a thing as a “Christian business”; and a claim that a commercial organisation can have principles of conscience that must be respected should not be given legal recognition.

The first issue, presumably, is whether or not the ECtHR will declare the complaint admissible.

Cite this article as: Frank Cranmer, "Breaking news: Ashers Baking heads for Strasbourg" in Law & Religion UK, 15 August 2019,

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