The so-called “gay cake” case could return to national courts following a “disappointing” judgment by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), lawyers have said.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Gareth Lee’s case against the UK is inadmissible because Mr Lee did not explicitly raise human rights arguments in the courts national.
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom ruled in 2018 that the Belfast-based Ashers Baking Company had not discriminated against Mr Lee by refusing to bake a cake with a message in favor of same-sex marriage.
Mr Lee attempted to argue in Strasbourg that the UK Supreme Court had failed to give proper weight to his rights under the European convention of human rights.
Ciaran Moynagh of Phoenix Law, representing Mr. Lee, said today: “We are disappointed with the court’s decision this morning.
“Mr. Lee made the only appropriate request available to him and addressed all of the arguments raised during the appeals. It is clear that Mr. Lee’s rights under the Convention were engaged and advanced during the litigation.
“In view of the position taken by the European Court this morning, we will now consider whether a new national case is moving forward.”
He added: “The substantive issues raised by my client in his request to the ECHR remain unanswered and this is a missed opportunity. Today’s ruling means the law here in Northern Ireland remains in a state of uncertainty as to how people’s rights can be protected.
“The owners of public limited companies have long benefited from being able to financially separate from their business. We continue to believe that they should also separate their political and religious views. When a general service is offered, it should be without favor or prejudice.