10 October 2018
South Antrim MP Paul Girvan has welcomed the unanimous verdict of the supreme court that Ashers Bakery did not discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or political opinion when refusing to print a message supporting same sex marriage on a cake.
The local MP attended Court with his constituents the McArthur family today to hear the verdict delivered by President of the Supreme Court Lady Hale.
Mr Girvan said, “Today is a victory for freedom of expression in the United Kingdom and for common sense.
The unanimous view of the Supreme Court echoes entirely what the McArthur family have said from the start of this process; that their refusal to fulfil the order was because of the message and not in any way related to the customer. The message would have been refused regardless of who might have placed the order.
The full ramifications of the judgement will become apparent in the months and years ahead. However, there can be little doubt that it has significant ramifications for free speech in Northern Ireland and beyond whilst not eroding important laws against discrimination.
It is vital to stress that no-one should be refused service because of their race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. To do so would be discrimination, it would be wrong and it should be supported by no-one in our society.
Support for the McArthur family in this case has come not just from those who oppose the redefinition of marriage, but from others who saw it as important to protect others in our society from being forced to promote a political idea that they oppose.
A considerable amount of public money has been expended throughout the duration of this case. The outcome however has been that the United Kingdom’s highest court has unanimously ruled and there is absolute clarity around the actions of the McArthur family.
I want to extend my congratulations to the McArthurs. I have known Daniel and his family for many years and I am proud to call them friends. The Christian Institute and their legal teams must also be commended for their hard work and dedication to this case. They continued to stay the course even amidst significant adversity. Their tenacity has been vindicated.
It is a victory not just for the McArthur family however, but for wider society and everyone who values freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. Many people who fundamentally disagree with the views held by the McArthur family will enjoy the same protections offered by this common sense ruling from the Supreme Court.”