"Religious freedom shouldn't be used as a cloak for prejudice."


Last May I blogged on a gay couple turned away from a B&B in the UK. Why? They're gay and the owners claimed that as Christians it was their right to refuse service.
Well, justice has been served.

This from the BBC today:

The owners of a hotel who refused to allow a gay couple a double room acted unlawfully, a judge has ruled.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull, of the Chymorvah Hotel, near Penzance, said as Christians they did not believe unmarried couples should share a room.

Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy, from Bristol, said the incident in September 2008 was "direct discrimination" against them.

In his ruling, Judge Rutherford said that, in the past 50 years, social attitudes in Britain had changed and it was inevitable that laws would "cut across" some people's beliefs.

"I am quite satisfied as to the genuineness of the defendants' beliefs and it is, I have no doubt, one which others also hold," he added.

"It is a very clear example of how social attitudes have changed over the years for it is not so very long ago that these beliefs of the defendants would have been those accepted as normal by society at large.

"Now it is the other way around."

John Wadham, from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said when Mr and Mrs Bull chose to open their home as a hotel it became a commercial enterprise.

"This decision means that community standards, not private ones, must be upheld," he said.

"The right of an individual to practise their religion and live out their beliefs is one of the most fundamental rights a person can have, but so is the right not to be turned away by a hotel just because you are gay," he said.

Gay equality charity Stonewall said it was delighted at the outcome.

"You can't turn away people from a hotel because they're black or Jewish and in 2011 you shouldn't be able to demean them by turning them away because they're gay either," its chief executive Ben Summerskill said.

"Religious freedom shouldn't be used as a cloak for prejudice."

Post from last May

Gay couple turned away from B&B

UK-
A gay couple were turned away from a Berkshire guest house by the owner who said it was "against her convictions" for two men to share a bed.

Michael Black and John Morgan, from Brampton, Cambridgeshire, had booked a double room at the Swiss B&B, Terry's Lane, in Cookham, for Friday night.

When they arrived Susanne Wilkinson refused to let them stay.

She admitted she did turn the couple away because it was against her policy to accommodate same sex couples.

“ She said if we'd told her in advance she would have told us not to come ”
Michael Black

The couple have now reported the matter to Thames Valley Police.

Under the Equality Act 2006 it is illegal to discriminate against people on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Ms Wilkinson told the BBC: "They gave me no prior warning and I couldn't offer them another room as I was fully booked.

"I don't see why I should change my mind and my beliefs I've held for years just because the government should force it on me.

"I am not a hotel, I am a guest house and this is a private house."