Christian hoteliers appeal against ruling on gay couple sharing a room

A Christian couple who did not let a gay couple have a double room in their hotel have appealed against a ruling that they acted unlawfully.

The BBC reports

Peter and Hazelmary Bull refused to allow civil partners Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall, from Bristol, the room at Chymorvah House in Cornwall in 2008.

The Bulls, from Marazion, were ordered in January to pay Mr Preddy and Mr Hall £1,800 each in damages.

The hearing at the Court of Appeal in London is expected to end on Wednesday.

The Christian Institute says

The Bulls’ legal defence is being funded by The Christian Institute’s Legal Defence Fund.

Mr and Mrs Bull’s double room policy has been in place since they opened the Chymorvah guesthouse in 1986 and the policy is applied consistently to all unmarried couples whether homosexual or heterosexual.

But Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy brought a claim of sexual orientation discrimination against the Bulls after they were denied double bed accommodation in September 2008.

The claim was brought under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, each man seeking up to £5,000 in damages. The litigation was financed by the Government-funded Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Mr and Mrs Bull contested the claim, saying that their double bed policy applies to all unmarried couples regardless of sexual orientation. They said it is based on their beliefs about marriage, not hostility to any sexual orientation.

Just days before Mr Preddy and Mr Hall arrived at the guesthouse, a letter had been sent to the establishment from homosexual lobby group, Stonewall.

The letter claimed that Mr and Mrs Bull’s double room policy was unlawful. Stonewall denies that the litigation is a ‘set up’.

After the ruling the guesthouse was targeted by numerous homosexual couples attempting to book double rooms in an apparent attempt to destroy the business.

According to the Guardian

James Dingemans QC, for the Bulls, told three appeal judges that Judge Andrew Rutherford at Bristol “erred in failing to balance the respective rights in this case”.

He said the Bulls believed that “unmarried sexual behaviour was wrong” but were not prejudiced against gay people.

Dingemans said the law should be capable of accommodating Hall and Preddy’s rights under equality legislation and the Bulls’ rights to beliefs about sex before marriage.

He said: “[The Bulls] have prevented hundreds of unmarried couples sharing double beds.

“[Their] beliefs may be considered outdated, uneconomic for those operating a private hotel, but, we respectfully submit, they are entitled to manifest those beliefs.”

He said the Bulls had an “absolute right” to believe that “unmarried sexual behaviour is wrong” and a “qualified right” to “manifest that belief”.

“If human rights is to have any value at all, it must be respecting of all rights,” added Dingemans. “It should not be beyond the ability of the courts to accommodate both sides.”

A Christian lawyer’s perspective on the Bed & Breakfast case
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?

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday November 8, 2011.
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