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article imageMP who said B&Bs should ban gays named ‘Bigot of the Year’

By Andrew John     Nov 5, 2010 in Lifestyle
The senior UK politician who said bed-and-breakfast establishments should be allowed to bar gay people has been named Bigot of the Year by the campaigning group Stonewall.
Grayling was the Tory shadow Home Secretary before May’s general election.
Pink News reports that Grayling was “secretly recorded in May saying that bed-and-breakfasts should have the right to bar gay couples, [and he] was not present to collect his award but Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said it would be delivered to him.”
The awards ceremony attracted 450 people, paying £175 a head, to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, including television presenters Mary Portas and Clare Balding, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, and BBC newsreader Jane Hill.
Grayling’s remarks caused uproar when he made them. The Independent reported at the time: “In a recording obtained by [the UK Sunday newspaper] the Observer, Mr Grayling said gay people should not be turned away from hotels, but said there was a difference with B&B owners running their business from home.”
Grayling – now a minister in the Department for Work and Pensions in the coalition Con–Dem government – was taped saying: “I think we need to allow people to have their own consciences . . . If it’s a question of somebody who’s doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn’t come into their own home.”
Very alarming
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, said back then that comments would be “very alarming to a lot of gay people who may have been thinking of voting Conservative.”
Michael Black and his partner John Morgan were turned away from a bed-and-breakfast in Berkshire because of their sexuality. They were quoted in Scotland’s Herald newspaper as saying that Tory leader – and now Prime Minister – David Cameron should fire Grayling.
“I think he certainly needs to explain himself,” said Black. “I would hope that David Cameron would sack him as shadow Home Secretary and make it clear the sort of attitude that religious belief puts people above the law is not acceptable in the Conservative Party.”
The Stonewall awards event was hosted by the comedian Sue Perkins.
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