A Christian bakery in Northern Ireland faces court action after it refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding featuring the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie.

The Ashers Baking Company has been threatened with legal action after it refused to make the cake with the slogan ‘support gay marriage’ on it.

The Irish Independent reports that the Newtownabbey-based bakery has already received a legal letter from Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission.

The Commission has warned that it will take legal action against the bakery if it refuses to print the icing on the cake.

Gay marriage is not legal in Northern Ireland and the report states the bakery is run by Christians who refused the order because it went against the directors’ religious beliefs.

The Christian Institute told the paper that the request for the cake was made in May by a ‘volunteer LGBT activist’.

The charitable Institute is supporting the bakery owners according to a spokesperson who said: “We are supporting the bakery because the case proves the need for the law to reasonably accommodate family-run businesses with firmly held beliefs.

“When the order came through to the head office, the manager and directors decided to decline the request on conscience grounds, and offered a full refund.”

The Irish Independent adds that the Equality Commission is reported to have told the firm that not printing the cake amounts to discrimination.