You may have read about the Northern Irish gay cake row which has been settled by the County court in Northern Ireland recently. A bakery was sued after it cancelled an order for a cake with an image and slogan “Support Gay Marriage” placed by a homosexual customer. The customer brought the case with the backing of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland on the grounds that the bakery had refused service on the grounds of sexual orientation.
This is an Irish case so was brought under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 but the judgment referred to a UK Supreme Court decision in Bull v Hall  so is food for thought for UK businesses.
The Judge held that the bakery had directly discriminated against the customer and rejected the argument put forward by the bakery that they would have refused a similar order from a heterosexual customer. The Judge held that the correct comparator should be a heterosexual customer placing an order for a cake with a slogan “support heterosexual marriage”. The directors were both Christians and they sought to argue that they fell within the exemption of certain religious organisations as they were a Christian based organisation which the Judge also rejected. The business was a profit-based business notwithstanding the directors religious beliefs so they could not rely on the exemption.