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Brian Lawless/PA Wire
UK News

Government minister: 'Very clear Ashers did discriminate'

by Antony Bushfield

Lord Bourne, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities, has given an exclusive interview to Premier.

He said: "There is a legal process to go through, there is the law of the land which we respect and as far as I'm concerned I have a very clear view on this.

"There should be no prejudice, no hatred on the basis of sexual orientation, no hatred on the basis of race or religion.

"That is the government's view."

Ashers declined an order placed by gay activist Gareth Lee, claiming the message was inconsistent with their deeply held religious beliefs.

Last year, it was found to have breached equality legislation following a high-profile court case in Belfast.

In October the Court of Appeal in Belfast agreed that Ashers acted unlawfully. The bakery is attempting to take the case to the UK's Supreme Court and then the European Court of Human Rights.

Through the legal proceedings, Daniel McArthur, the company's general manager, insisted Mr Lee's sexuality was never an issue, rather the message he wanted the bakery to create.

Asked to clarify if he believed Ashers did discriminate Lord Bourne replied: "I think it's very clear that this was the case and that is the law of the land.

"We must respect judges, this issue has come up previously and the judges are there to uphold the law of the land, they're an important part of the constitution and we must respect what they say."

Lord Bourne speaking to Premier's Antony Bushfield:

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