LONDON - A bakery run by a Christian family in Northern Ireland on Wednesday (Oct 10) won a landmark case in Britain's highest court over its refusal to make a cake decorated with the words "Support Gay Marriage".
The Supreme Court upheld the owners' appeal against a May decision that found them guilty of discriminating against gay rights activist Gareth Lee.
The bakery called the ruling a momentous day for religious freedom in Britain, while Lee condemned it as a profound blow for civil rights.
"I paid my money, my money was taken and then a few days later it was refused. That made me feel like a second-class citizen," he told reporters after listening to the verdict.
"I'm concerned not just for the implications for myself and other gay people, but for every single one of us."
The case pitted Northern Ireland's strong Protestant and Catholic communities against LGBT groups testing the breadth of the British province's anti-discrimination laws.
Wednesday's ruling explained that the bakery's "objection was to the message on the cake, not any personal characteristics of the messenger, or anyone with whom he was associated."
The top of the cake would have also had a picture of the bedroom-sharing Bert and Ernie muppets from the US children's show Sesame Street.
Ashers Baking Company - a business with 80 employees across Britain that takes its name from an Old Testament figure - took the order but declined to make the cake in 2014.