Devout Christian hotel owners who refused to allow a gay couple to share a double room acted unlawfully, a judge at Bristol county court ruled today.
Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, who are civil partners, won their landmark claim for discrimination in a case funded and supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
The ruling, one of the first made under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, is likely to provide those in partnerships with greater protection from discrimination, The Guardian writes.
However, the judge gave the Bulls permission to appeal, saying that his ruling “does affect the human rights of the defendants to manifest their religion and forces them to act in a manner contrary to their deeply and genuinely held beliefs.”
Reacting to the news, Mrs Bull said she is disappointed by the decision and she and her husband will discuss an appeal with their legal team, says the Christian Institute.
Her husband, Peter, was unable to attend court for the judgment as he is due to undergo triple heart bypass surgery later today.
Responding to the case The Telegraph in an editorial says “The right to act in keeping with one’s religious faith is being set against the right not to be offended – and is losing.”
The Daily Mail writes that the Bulls “had only one motive in refusing a double room to civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy.
In the words of Judge Andrew Rutherford, this was their ‘perfectly orthodox Christian belief’ that sex outside marriage, straight or gay, is wrong.
It is because they live by that belief, held through the centuries in what is still called a Christian country, that today the Bulls face ruin.”
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Christian B&B case: What the papers say
A Christian couple have lost a court battle over their refusal to allow a homosexual couple to share a room at their B&B, and have been ordered to pay them £3,600 in damages. Is this just?