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British Hoteliers Who Refused Gay Couple a Double Room Will Appeal Court Loss

British Hoteliers Who Refused Gay Couple a Double Room Will Appeal Court Loss

Hoteliers who denied a gay couple in a civil partnership a double room will appeal a court’s decision that their actions were illegal under Britain’s equality laws.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull, self-described devout Christians and owners of the Chymorvah Private Hotel near Penzance, Cornwall, were told last week by a Bristol county court judge that they had acted unlawfully in denying gay couple Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy a double room.

Now, Mr and Mrs Bull have announced that they will appeal the ruling, an effort that will be funded by the Christian Institute which is painting the court battle as an example of gay rights muscling out religious freedom of expression.

From ITN:

The Christian hotel owners found to be acting illegally when they refused a gay couple a double room are to appeal against the ruling, according to supporters.

In a landmark ruling, a judge said Peter and Hazelmary Bull were breaking the law when they denied Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy a room at their hotel in Cornwall in September 2008.

[...]

Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute said “Obviously there are some finally balanced legal issues in this case and I think it is important our higher courts have the opportunity to look at this issue. A lot of Christians are looking at this case with great concern and they do believe their beliefs have been squeezed from public life.”

The Bulls had refused a double room to Hall and Preddy citing that they had a strict policy since the time of opening their home as a seven bedroom hotel that double rooms would only be available for married couples. This, they claimed, was not about the couple’s sexual orientation as they would have denied an unmarried straight couple in the same way. The Bulls also said that an oversight during the booking procedure had meant they had not made that policy clear over the phone. 

Gay couple Hall and Preddy, who are civil partners, claimed that this was a de facto ban on same-sex couples as they can not marry and therefore are automatically excluded.

Judge Andrew Rutherford agreed, concluding that while the law must be seen to uphold the rights of religious freedom of speech, the right to manifest one’s religious views was not absolute and must be limited in the public sphere “to protect the rights and freedoms” of the public.

The ruling affirmed the couple had the right to hold their own private views, but as soon as those views were introduced into hotel policy they were subject to equality laws and as such were in breach of Britain’s Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations of 2007 which says civil partnerships—recognized in Britain under the Civil Partnership Act of 2004—must be treated the same as marriages. As such, Mr and Mrs Bull were ordered to pay a total of £3,600 to Hall and Preddy. However, the judge granted Mr and Mrs Bull leave to appeal.

The appeal will be heard later this year. 

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to antonella.beccaria.

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2:42AM PST on Feb 11, 2011

Thank you for posting.

10:03PM PST on Jan 31, 2011

David Reed........... Except on redneck racist blogs and sites in the US, I have rarely seen anyone so proudly proclaim that discrimination is a good thing and that everyone (except big businesses!) should be able to discriminate at will against anyone they wish to.

You are truly a reprehensible person and you deserve total public condemnation for your views! No, this is not just a polite disagreement over one's views. You are advocating wholesale discrimination and hatred across the board. That is an utterly indefensible stand and you are an example of the worst of the worst in ANY society!

9:15AM PST on Jan 31, 2011

" Yet there was an attempt to get "positive discrimination" (ie exclude indigenous white people!) legalised in the er.."Equality Laws" "

Was there now. Can you tell us more about this? Like when this happened, which MP sponsored the bill and when it was debated in Parliament? Or was it a Government bill? Or did in come from the European Parliament. I really look forward to hearing the details!

12:57AM PST on Jan 31, 2011

Hi Mary """The comment about right to refuse business to anyone in the public sector makes no sense. That would mean that I would have to figure out where to get my groceries, for instance""""

Let's make this clear - it does make sense for only large public companies to be subject to so-called "Equality Laws" IN THE UK! Because if you own a grocery store or in fact any store or bar you can AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION refuse to serve anyone you like, near me in London are stores where to speak in English will not be understood, Irish only pubs, caribbean only bars and there are many many businesses that employ only people of one ethnic group the last would strictly be breaking the law if they advertised vacancies and excluded others but they don't advertise openly so the discrimination is hidden from the law. Yet there was an attempt to get "positive discrimination" (ie exclude indigenous white people!) legalised in the er.."Equality Laws" but such nonsense in very very un-British! In fact the whole of this "equality" thing is! But er...you are right I DO have to figure out where I get my groceries! But shouldn't ALL small businesses be allowed to operate as they see fit? My local kebab shop can tell this gay couple to pass the time of day somewhere else but not this elderly couple, where's the quality in that!

4:06PM PST on Jan 30, 2011

Idiots! So they were gay, but they might be just friends. I've traveled before with friends and we were low budget, so the girls shared a room and the boys another. What was the problem?
It was illegal, period.

8:42AM PST on Jan 30, 2011

Bryon, it does say - and this could be a recent addition - "Here at Chymorvah we have few rules, but please note that as Christians we have a deep regard for marriage(being the union of one man to one woman for life to the exclusion of all others). Therefore, although we extend to all a warm welcome to our home, our double bedded accommodation is not available to unmarried couples". How much do you reckon they check up on the other guests? Has anyone stayed there and had to declare if it's a re-marriage after divorce for either party, or if they'd been unfaithful to their opposite-sex spouse? Do the Bulls ask to see marriage certificates? Their menu does include pork, which is definitely forbidden in the Bible. And I think it would be just too much hard work and maybe embarrassing to adhere to Leviticus 15 about unclean guests. Clearly the Bulls pick and choose which bits of the Bible they enforce. Perhaps the gay gentlemen should be thankful for that, as Leviticus 20 says they should be killed, not just sent packing.

8:21AM PST on Jan 30, 2011

The comment about right to refuse business to anyone in the public sector makes no sense. That would mean that I would have to figure out where to get my groceries, for instance. Perhaps the owner doesn't like progressive Democrats. What if they insisted that I be a card-carrying member of a conservative church? Would a motel whose owner, as an example, decried certain heterosexual sex acts have to put camcorders in rooms or quiz prospective customers about their sex practices? What if they were afraid of people with HIV? Or disapproved of people who had remarried or were of different races? Maybe I just want to ba able to go out and buy a loaf of bread, get gas, buy a gift for my grandchild. That is public and even those opposed to my beliefs should be able to do the same: simply, efficiently, without challenge. Civil partnerships and same-sex legal marriage are LEGAL in Great Britain. Anyone doing business there, whether a small family business or big corporation, needs to adhere to that.

8:17AM PST on Jan 30, 2011

84b30

4:44AM PST on Jan 30, 2011

Let's get this clear - AN ENGLISHMAN'S HOME HIS IS CASTLE. I don't want anyone to be able to tell anyone else what they can and can't do with their own home or their own business. British society has always been able to accomodate everyone and all views without recourse to the law in the past. Sure PUBLIC companies and utilities shouldn't discriminate, and in fact even before so-called "equality" laws they were the chief employers of minorities whether ethnic and/or gay - I spent my working life there! But small people and their businesses have a right to be treated with respect and dignity and run their lives has they see fit. So they don't want gays, blacks, young people or whatever in their lives, fine, let these people turn the other cheek and get on with their lives where they will be discriminating in some way against someone or something! To be able to run crying to the law in this case is to bring the law into disrepute, no-one was abused in any way! What has happened is that a few law makers instead of tackling the economy or world poverty have decided to fix something that wasn't broke ie British society and impose will and allow no dissention, we can no longer live and let live. Though thankfully people saw the Religious Hatred Act as another attack on free expression and it had to be watered down; this judgement is being seen in the same light. Gays discriminate, so can everyone else I say!

5:30PM PST on Jan 29, 2011

The Bulls may be old and have old sensibilities, but they are running a public place. One can no longer discriminate against gays, blacks, females in the civilized world.

Kind of surprised -- England has a long history of turning a blind eye to, and accommodating homosexual gentlemen.

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