B&B couple says Supreme Court loss has 'ramifications' for Christians

Wed 27 Nov 2013
By Sarah McAllister

Christian guesthouse owners ordered to pay damages after turning away a gay couple have lost their Supreme Court fight against the ruling.

The Christian owners of a BB say they're worried about the 'ramificaions' for traditional Christians in the UK after the Supreme Court ruled against them on equality grounds over refusing to let a gay couple stay in a double room at their guest house. 

Hazelmary and Peter Bull from Cornwall, were fighting a ruling which claimed they discriminated against Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy in September, 2008. Today, five judges upheld that ruling claiming their actions led to either direct or indirect discrimination.

Mrs Bull told Premier's Des Busteed on the News Hour why she thinks the Equality Act isn't fair.

Mr and Mrs Bull say they now fear the repurcussions for anyone who holds onto the traditional view of marriage being between a man and a woman.

They're also calling on parliament to reform the law to allow a 'more reasonable' approach which balances competing rights, otherwise they say Christianity will become the belief that 'dare not speak its name'. Speaking about the ruling, Lady Hale and Lord Toulson said: "The Appellants' concept of marriage was the Christian concept of the union of one man and one woman. 

"Civil partnership is a status akin to marriage, and the criteria of marriage and civil partnership are indissociable from the sexual orientation of those qualifying for the particular statuses. All married couples would be permitted a double bedroom by the Appellants, while no civilly partnered couples would be. 

"The Court's judgment does not favour sexual orientation over religious belief: had the Respondents refused hotel rooms to the Appellants because of the Appellants' Christian beliefs, the Appellants would equally have been protected by the law's prohibition of discrimination."

The Bull's were first sued after turning away Mr Hall and Mr Preddy from Chymorvah Hotel back in September 2008. They were ordered to pay £3,600 after a court ruled their policy equalled discrimination despite claiming they treated all unmarried couples the same.

Mr and Mrs Bull say their policy which was applied to heterosexuals as well as homosexuals is based on their sincere Christian belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Mike Judge from the Christian Institute, which supported the couple through the case, told Premier's News Hour they had no regrets, despite losing the action.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has also responded to today's ruling. In a statement its Deputy Legal Editor Wendy Hewitt said: "The Courts have been very clear throughout this long-running case that same-sex couples should not be subjected to discrimination when accessing services. 

"This is what Parliament intended when it approved the 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations and then passed the Equality Act 2010, well aware that gay men and lesbians have long suffered discrimination when seeking to stay away from home as a couple.

"As the Supreme Court noted: 'if Mr Preddy and Mr Hall were hotel keepers who had refused a room to Mr and Mrs Bull, because they were Christians (or even because they were an opposite sex couple), the Commission would have been just as ready to support Mr and Mrs Bull in their claim.

"Each of these parties has the same right to be protected against discrimination by the other."

Since the case hit the headlines the Bulls claim their business has suffered and they've become victims to hate crimes. The couple says they're still waiting for an appropriate buyer for their guest house business and are considering whether to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

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