London -

A Christian bakery is being taken to court for refusing to make a cake decorated with the words “Support gay marriage”.

Staff at Ashers Baking Company accepted an order from Gareth Lee, of the QueerSpace pressure group, to create a cake with the slogan and images of the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie.

However, owners Colin and Karen McArthur, and their son Daniel, who manages the firm, felt the message went against their religious beliefs and refused to fulfil the order. They offered a refund, but Mr Lee complained to the Equality Commission, which is taking them to the county court.

Colin Hart, of the Christian Institute, which is backing the Belfast firm, said: “Millions face legal action from the forces of political correctness if they, out of conscience, decline to provide goods or services to groups they do not agree with. It establishes a dangerous precedent.”

The row - the latest case of Christians facing court and a possible compensation bill for their beliefs - appears to be a legal advance for gay rights.

Judges have already said it is wrong for Christians to refuse to serve gay people, and have said they can be fired for refusing to take part in civil partnership ceremonies and denying sex therapy to gay couples.

But the challenge to the bakery is the first in which someone is said to have broken the law for refusing to take part in a gay rights PR campaign. - Daily Mail