The Great Strasbourg Bake Off

In this guest post, Professor Mark Hill QC offers an assessment of this morning’s judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Gareth Lee v United Kingdom, the so-called ‘Gay Cake Case’


Northern Ireland’s so-called ‘Gay Cake Case’ attracted a great deal of media interest as it made its way through the County Court, then the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal. Much of it was ill-informed. When the Supreme Court heard the case, it broke new ground by re-locating to Belfast for legal argument. At issue was whether it was lawful for a bakery to decline to take a customer’s order for a bespoke cake if the proposed icing included a written message (‘support gay marriage’) with which the bakers disagreed.

The facts

Ashers Baking Company Limited is a family-run bakery business owned by the McArthur family which has operated in Belfast since 1992. The family are Christians and believe that the only form of marriage which is consistent with biblical teaching is that between a man and a woman. In May 2014, Mr Lee, a gay man, placed an order at Ashers’ shop for a cake to be iced with the following features: Continue reading