The Christian-owned Ashers Baking Company is refusing to make a cake that features Bert and Ernie from "Sesame Street," and a pro-gay message.
The customer, gay activist Gareth Lee, wanted the cake to include the words "Support Gay Marriage," a picture of Bert and Ernie, and the logo of the pro-gay Queerspace organization, the Belfast Telegraph notes.
This type of cake controversy has happened before in the U.S., but this incident occurred in Northern Ireland where same-sex marriage is not legal.
Ashers Baking Company has six stores in Northern Ireland. This order was placed at the Belfast store.
"I would like the outcome of this to be that any Christians running a business could be allowed to follow their Christian beliefs and principles in the day-to-day running of the business and that they are allowed to make decisions based on that," the baking company's general manager Daniel McArthur told Rte.ie.
"It certainly was in contradiction with what the Bible teaches and on the following Monday we rang up the customer to let him know that we could not take his order," McArthur added.
McArthur said that Northern Ireland's Equality Commission claims the bakery discriminated against the customer on the grounds of his sexual orientation and has broken the law.
"It asked us to propose how we would recompense the customer for this discrimination. It also said it would pursue legal proceedings if we didn't respond within a seven-day time period," McArthur stated.
He contacted the Christian Institute for legal support, which has created a video (below) to explain the bakery company's side, reports Christian.org.uk.
"Imbalanced equality laws are making it increasingly hard for people, especially Christians," Colin Hart, of the Christian Institute, stated. "It establishes a dangerous precedent about the power of the state over an individual or business to force them to go against their deeply-held beliefs."
Sources: Belfast Telegraph, Rte.ie, Christian.org.uk