A Christian married couple have lost their latest legal battle against their refusal to allow a gay couple to share a double room in their guest house, in a case that focused on sex discrimination under equality legislation.
Peter and Hazelmary Bull refused to allow civil partners Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall to stay in a double room at Chymorvah House in Cornwall in 2008, saying that they regard any sex outside marriage as a sin.
Messrs Preddy and Hall took the Bulls to Bristol County Court, where the B&B owners were ordered to pay costs. However, the Bulls took their case to the Court of Appeal, where they lost again.
This week five Supreme Court justices have ruled against them, saying that the decision to ban the two men from staying was “an affront to their dignity as human beings, which our law has now, some would say belatedly, recognised”.
Welcoming the ruling, Wendy Hewitt, deputy legal director at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said that the courts have been very clear throughout the case that same-sex couples should not be subjected to discrimination when accessing services.
Ms Hewitt added that 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.
However, Mr and Mrs Bull said that they were “deeply disappointed” by the decision and disappointed in the judges, as their Christian beliefs are not based on hostility to any group but on their sincere beliefs about marriage.
They added that their decision not to allow the two men to stay in their guesthouse had been founded on a “religiously-informed judgment of conscience”.
Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London
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