Sir Patrick Stewart says he is not "anti-equality" despite saying that he supports the right of a Christian family-owned bakery to refuse to bake a cake with a message supporting gay marriage, which spurred a lawsuit.
The McArthur family, which owns Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland, was found guilty of unlawful discrimination and fined 500 pounds sterling ($763). They had refused to bake a cake containing the words "support gay marriage," above an image of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street.
The bakery's general manager said they didn't "want to be forced to promote a cause which is against our biblical beliefs," according to the U.K. newspaper The Independent.
"Finally, I found myself on the side of the bakers," Stewart, 74, told BBC's Newsnight this week.
"It was not because this was a gay couple that they objected," he said. "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 because they found them offensive and I would support their right to say, 'No, this is personally offensive to my beliefs. I will not do it.'"
"But I feel bad for them that it cost them 600 quid or whatever," he added.
Following an online backlash, the Star Trek: The Next Generation and X-Men star took to Facebook on Friday to clarify his remarks.
"In my view, this particular matter was not about discrimination, but rather personal freedoms and what constitutes them, including the freedom to object," he wrote. "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," he said. "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," he wrote. "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."