GUESTHOUSE keepers in Britain cannot turn away homosexual men from their lodges, according to a ruling by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in a case sponsored by a UK homosexual lobby group.
Judge Andrew Rutherford declared it was unlawful for Peter and Hazelmary Bull to operate their policy and deny a double room to homosexual couples Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy.
The judge ordered the Bulls, devout Christians who own a guesthouse in a popular holiday resort in Cornwall, to pay a fine of £3,600 in damages to the gay couples.
The judge ruled that under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, introduced under the previous Government, civil partnerships must be treated in the same way as marriage.
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After the hearing, Hazelmary Bull said she and her husband were ‘disappointed’ with the verdict.
“Our double-bed policy was based on our sincere beliefs about marriage, not hostility to anybody. It was applied equally and consistently to unmarried heterosexual couples and homosexual couples, as the judge accepted,” she told media.
The judge gave the Bulls permission to appeal, saying that his ruling “does affect the human rights of the defendants to manifest their religion and forces them to act in a manner contrary to their deeply and genuinely held beliefs.”
The Bulls said they will discuss an appeal with their legal team.
Peter, Mrs. Bull explained, was unable to attend court for the judgment as he is due to undergo triple heart bypass surgery on that day.
“Understandably, this is a very stressful day,” she said.
Speaking to the media, Mrs. Bull said: “Although we are disappointed by the decision, we are encouraged by
some of the things the judge said. He said his decision affects our religious liberty and forces us to act against our deeply and genuinely held beliefs. He has, therefore, given us permission to appeal. We will take time to consider our position carefully with our legal team.
“In the meantime, I do feel that Christianity is being marginalised in Britain. The same laws used against us have been used to shut down faith-based adoption agencies.
“Much is said about ‘equality and diversity’ but it seems some people are more equal than others,” she added.
Martyn Hall and his homosexual partner or ‘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.