The Equality Commission has given Ashers Baking Company extra time to respond to the threat of court action.

Ashers’ general manager Daniel McArthur told an Irish publication, he had written to the commission requesting four weeks to respond to the threat, and the equality body had agreed.

Court action was warned when the bakery, owned by a Christian family, refused to make a cake which promoted gay marriage. The company is concerned that its version of what happened was not expressed to the Equality Commission before the latter decided that the bakery’s actions were ‘unlawful’.

The customers had requested that the cake feature the logo of ‘Queerspace’, a Belfast-based campaign group for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in the area. Ashers Baking Company turned the order down on the grounds that it did not support its own beliefs.

Gay marriage is not legal in Northern Ireland - the only part of the UK in which it is not on the statute book.