The Christian bakers who refused to create a cake with a slogan supporting same-sex marriage are in tune with public opinion, according to a YouGov survey.
Ashers Baking Company in Belfast has been threatened with prosecution by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland because it refused to bake the cake. Ashers manager Daniel McArthur said: "We're continuing to hold to the stand that we took originally because we believe it's biblical, we believe it's what God would want us to do, and we also think that if we do cave in to the Equality Commission at this point it'll put pressure on other citizens who are defending their view of traditional marriage."
Now a YouGov poll has revealed backing for the family bakers, with a survey finding that 56 per cent of respondents thought that the company should have the right to refuse the commission and only 33 per cent saying that its behaviour was unacceptable.
The strongest support for Ashers' stance comes from Conservative and UKIP voters at 67 per cent and 74 per cent, with over-60s from all political groups at 69 per cent.
The survey also found strong disapproval of the Equality Commission's threat of legal proceedings against the bakery, with 65 per cent opposed and only 25 per cent in favour.
The finding echoes similar figures revealed in a ComRes poll in July, which showed that only a fifth (21 per cent) of respondents thought that businesses that turn down goods or services promoting gay marriage should face legal action. More than half (56 per cent) said they should not face legal action, with the remainder undecided.
However, the picture drawn in the latest poll is complicated by responses to other questions, on whether someone's sexuality should be a valid reason for refusing them service in a restaurant, hotel, bed and breakfast or taxi. In each case a high proportion of respondents thought it would be unacceptable to do so, ranging from 80 per cent in the case of a taxi firm to 56 per cent in the case of a members-only club.