The Equality Commission has confirmed plans to take legal action against a Northern Ireland bakery which refused to bake a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan. 

The Equality Commission wrote to Ashers Baking Company earlier this year, after it declined a customer’s order for a cake with Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie. The commission supported the customer’s claim for compensation, but lawyers for the County Antrim firm do not accept the bakery owners acted unlawfully.

The row hit the headlines in July, when Newtownabbey-based company, Ashers Baking Co cancelled the order, claiming it was against the Christian religious beliefs of the directors.

The cake had been ordered in Belfast by a gay activist two months earlier, for a civic event in Bangor, County Down, marking International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.