A homosexual couple are suing the Christian owners of a seaside hotel for sexual discrimination after they were refused a double bedroom.
Martyn Hall, who lives with civil partner Steven Preddy, has lodged a county court claim for £5,000 in damages, alleging ‘direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation’ against the hotel owners, Peter and Hazelmary Bull.
The pair, from Bristol, booked a room at the Chymorvah Private Hotel in Marazion, Cornwall, last September, but when they arrived were told that only married heterosexual couples could stay in the same room.
However, under the new Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, it is unlawful to refuse a person goods or facilities on the grounds of their sexuality.
Mr Preddy and Mr Hall told the hotel manager, Bernie Quinn, that he was acting illegally before leaving the premises and reporting the incident to police.
Mr and Mrs Bull have defended their policy, which bans all unmarried couples – both heterosexual and homosexual – from sharing a bed.
It has been in place since they took over the business in 1986, and is founded in their strong Christian beliefs.
On the booking page of their website there is a “special note” which reads: “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 – Thank you.”
The Bulls, who have the backing of the Christian Institute, said they were aware of the new law but felt too strongly about their faith to let it change the policy.
Mrs Bull said: “In 26 years we have never really had a problem with it. I have found people to be very good and understanding. They realise that they are pursuing one lifestyle while we are pursuing another.
“I suppose we knew there would be problems with the new law, but I can’t change my beliefs and faith because of that.”
Gay men sue hotel for denying them double bed
Michael Judge, spokesman for the Christian Institute, said many Christians would feel the approach taken by the hotel was entirely acceptable.
“Just because the owners are running a business, they do not leave the Christian beliefs behind them. They do not want to be complicit in acts they disagree with.”
The Institute is funding the hotel owners’ defence costs. He said their defence might focus on Article 9 of the ECHR (freedom of religion) and Article 10 (freedom of speech).
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