Ruling: Gay couple refused B&B double room treated unlawfully

Posted Jan 18, 2011 by Andrew John
A judge in England has ruled that a Christian couple who refused double accommodation to a gay couple in their bed-and-breakfast establishment acted unlawfully.
Chris Grayling MP
Chris Grayling MP
Chris Grayling website
Steven Preddy and Martin Hall tried to book into the Chymorvah Hotel near Penzance in Cornwall in the west of England in September 2008. They say the couple’s refusal to allow a double room was discriminatory, reports the BBC.
The Christian couple, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, say that to allow an unmarried couple to share double accommodation would be against their Christian principles, even though Preddy and Hall are civil partners.
The BBC quotes Preddy as saying: “When we booked to stay at the Chymorvah Hotel this was not, as some have suggested, a set-up sponsored by a pressure group, we just wanted a relaxing weekend away – something thousands of other couples in Britain do every weekend.
“Because we wanted to bring our new dog we checked he would be welcome. It didn’t even cross our minds that in 2008 in Britain we needed to ask if we would be.”
The couple were awarded £1,800 each at Bristol Crown Court.
The Bulls say they’re considering an appeal. Hazelmary Bull said: “We are obviously disappointed with the result. Our double-bed policy was based on our sincere beliefs about marriage, not hostility to anybody.”
Judge Rutherford said that social attitudes in Britain had changed over the past half-century, and some laws would inevitably “cut across” some people’s beliefs.
Bigot of the Year
“I am quite satisfied as to the genuineness of the defendants’ beliefs and it is, I have no doubt, one which others also hold,” he said.
Last November, a senior UK politician who said bed-and-breakfast establishments should be allowed to bar gay people was named Bigot of the Year by the campaigning group Stonewall.
Chris Grayling was the Conservatives’ shadow Home Secretary while they were in opposition before last May’s general election.
Pink News reported at the time 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.”
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.”
Of the Bull case, Stonewall’s Ben Summerskill said: “You can’t turn away people from a hotel because they’re black or Jewish and in 2011 you shouldn’t be able to demean them by turning them away because they’re gay either. Religious freedom shouldn’t be used as a cloak for prejudice.”
The Bulls’ defence was funded by the Christian Institute, whose Mike Judge said today: “This ruling is further evidence that equality laws are being used as a sword rather than a shield.
“Peter and Hazelmary were sued with the full backing of the government-funded Equality Commission. Christians are being sidelined. The judge recognises that his decision has a profound impact on the religious liberty of Peter and Hazelmary.”