Patrick Stewart Stands Up For Christian Bakers Who Wouldn’t Make Pro-gay Cake (VIDEO)

Sir Patrick Stewart, known for his role as Star Trek’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard, is a major advocate for human rights – including gay rights. Being that he’s such a strong LGBT ally, it shocked many when the actor and activist came to the defense of an Irish bakery that refused to inscribe a pro-gay message on a cake for gay rights activist Gareth Lee.

During the 10th anniversary of Amnesty International opening its Human Rights Action Centre on Wednesday, BBC interviewed Stewart on several controversial subjects. One of those topics was Stewart’s view on the two Christian owners of Ashers Baking Company, who were convicted of discrimination last week after they wouldn’t decorate a cake with Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie with the words “Support Gay Marriage.”

Watch what Stewart says below:

Right before he was asked his opinion of the Irish bakery’s actions, Stewart had said, “When it comes to defending civil liberties and human rights, you cannot be too active and too determined,” as he was asked if prisoners should have the right to vote.

As marriage had just been legalized in Ireland, the Christian bakers’ refusal to make the pro-gay cake was looked down upon. Stewart, on the other hand, came to their defense and said he didn’t believe business owners should have to go against their beliefs if they are asked to create something they don’t agree with. Stewart said:

“You’ve picked a deliciously difficult subject because, finally, I found myself on the side of the bakers. It was not because this was a gay couple that they objected. It was not because they were going to be celebrating some kind of marriage or agreement between them. It was the actual words on the cake that they objected to.

They found them offensive. I would support their right to say ‘no, this is personally offensive to my beliefs and I will not do it.’ I felt bad for them that it cost them 600 quid or whatever.”

Despite how equality-driven Stewart’s history is, it’s easy to see why this message sounds like the actor is pivoting on his pro-gay rights stance. After the interview, social media erupted in anger.

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Due to the uproar and confusion his answer caused, Stewart took to Facebook on Friday evening to explain his answer further, making sure to state that he was not anti-equality.

“As part of my advocacy for Amnesty International, I gave an interview on a number of subjects related to human rights, civil rights and freedom of speech. During the interview, I was asked about the Irish bakers who refused to put a message on a cake which supported marriage equality, because of their beliefs.

In my view, this particular matter was not about discrimination, but rather personal freedoms and what constitutes them, including the freedom to object. Both equality and freedom of speech are fundamental rights— and this case underscores how we need to ensure one isn’t compromised in the pursuit of the other. I know many disagree with my sentiments, including the courts. I respect and understand their position, especially in this important climate where the tides of prejudices and inequality are (thankfully) turning.

What I cannot respect is that some have conflated my position on this single matter to assume I’m anti-equality or that I share the personal beliefs of the bakers. Nothing, absolutely nothing, could be further from the truth. I have long championed the rights of the LGBT community, because equality should not only be, as the people of Ireland powerfully showed the world, universally embraced, but treasured.”

The judge on Ashers Baking Company’s case ruled that the bakery had discriminated against Lee on grounds of sexual orientation and political beliefs and ordered to pay 500 pounds ($765) for damages. The bakers said they would appeal the ruling, because according to their beliefs they’ve “done nothing wrong as we have discriminated against no individual but rather acted according to what the Bible teaches regarding marriage.”

What do you think of Stewart’s response? Are you in more agreement with the judge or the actor?

Featured image courtesy of BBC (screenshot).