‘This summary does not cover every eventuality but intends to outline some of the possible criminal offences that may be committed. It should not be treated as legal advice and is not meant to be an exhaustive account of this area of law.
The police are responsible for investigating an allegation that a crime has been committed. Following investigation, the decision whether to charge a person with a criminal offence lies either with the police or the CPS.
Where a series of existing offences – including harassment and public order offences – are committed, and such an offence was motivated by hostility to race or religion, or was accompanied by hostility to race or religion proximate to the commission of the offence, a separate racially or religious aggravated offence is committed attracting a greater penalty. For further details, see the CPS-published guidance on this website. For those offences not covered but where hostility or hostile motivation towards race or religion is present, or hostility or hostile motivation towards disability, sexual orientation or transgender is present, this must be treated as an aggravating factor at sentence and stated as such in open court.’
Crown Prosecution Service, 11th January 2018
‘The Supreme Court unanimously and comprehensively reversed the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal’s decision in the “gay cake” case. The Supreme Court, in a decision of considerable significance for the United Kingdom as a whole, and beyond, held that the bakery would have refused to supply this particular cake to anyone, whatever their personal characteristics. So there was no discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. If and to the extent that there was an arguable case of discrimination on grounds of political opinion, no justification has been shown for overriding the bakery’s ECHR protections against compelled speech.’
Blackstone Chambers, 10th October 2018
‘On 10 October 2018, the UK Supreme Court handed down its judgment in Lee v Ashers Baking Company Ltd  UKSC 49, sparking much debate and commentary. The judgment is legally important for how it conceptualises freedom of expression, and for the surprising evidence of judicial overreaching it contains. Given that others have already considered the former issue in some depth (see Chandrachud and Rowbottom on this blog alone), we focus on the latter in this post.’
UK Constitutional Law Association, 18th October 2018
‘In the high-profile decision in Lee v Ashers, the Supreme Court had to consider a customer’s rights against discrimination along with the baker’s right to freedom of expression. In its finding for the baker, the Supreme Court took an important step in developing a domestic doctrine against ‘compelled speech’. While the outcome of the case divides opinion, the reasoning of the Court requires further consideration of when a person has a right not express a particular view.’
UK Constitutional Law Association, 16th October 2018
‘Lee v. Ashers Baking Company Ltd. On Wednesday the Supreme Court handed down its much-anticipated judgment in the ‘gay cake’ case. The Court unanimously held that it was not direct discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or political opinion for the owners of a Northern Irish bakery to refuse to bake a cake with the message ‘Support Gay Marriage’ on it, when to do so would have been contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.’
UK Human Rights Blog, 15th October 2018
‘Speech by Dr Victoria McCloud, Master of the Senior Courts: Rainbow Lives, Monochrome Laws – Reflections on law and identity.’
Courts and Tribunals Judiciary, 21st August 2018
‘The Supreme Court issued a unanimous landmark judgement declaring that the provisions in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 preventing opposite sex couples from entering into a civil partnership is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.’
Zenith Chambers, 29th June 2018
‘Five Supreme Court Justices have ruled in favour of a heterosexual couple whose three and a half year legal campaign challenged legislation preventing opposite-sex couples from entering into a civil partnership. The court unanimously agreed that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 is ‘incompatible’ with the European Convention on Human Rights as it applies only to same-sex couples and therefore amounted to discrimination.
This judgment will likely put the Government under significant pressure to change the law and allow heterosexual couples to become civil partners. Currently, opposite-sex couples may only marry, whilst same-sex couples may opt to marry or enter into a civil partnership.’
Family Law, 28th June 2018
‘Often, the road to equality is long and arduous, just ask the same-sex couples who had to wait until the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 for recognition of the right to marry or those whose right to legal recognition will still feel a long way off. On any view, the road to equality in civil partnerships will be shorter. But that route has had its own difficulties and the significance of the success of this appeal should not be underestimated.’
Supreme Court Blog, 28th June 2018
‘The Supreme Court will hand down Judgment on Wednesday 27th June 2018 in R (on the application of Steinfeld and another) v Secretary of State for the International Development (in substitution for the Home Secretary and the Education Secretary).’
UK Human Rights Blog, 25th June 2018