Judge rules against Christian guesthouse owners
Two Christian guesthouse owners have today lost their appeal against last year’s ruling which left them with a £3,600 fine for only letting married couples rent double-rooms in their guesthouse.
Peter and Hazelmary Bull were found to have discriminated after refusing a double-room to a non-married same-sex couple in 2008.
The Bulls appealed the decision, claiming that they had always restricted double-rooms to married couples in accordance with their Christian beliefs.
The Judge who gave them permission to appeal explained that his original ruling affected “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.”
Court of Appeal
However, today the Court of Appeal upheld the original decision and found that same-sex couple Mr Hall and Mr Preddy had been discriminated against under equality laws.
Mr Hall and Mr Preddy were backed in their case by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The EHRC has intervened in several cases relating to the clash between freedom of belief and homosexual rights, and in every such case it has intervened strongly against the freedom to manifest religious belief.
The EHRC caused outrage last year when it argued in Johns v Derby Council that Christians with Christian moral views on sex should not be allowed to foster because they might ‘infect’ children.
The Christian Institute funded Mr and Mrs Bull’s appeal.
Spokesman Simon Calvert said: “Peter and Hazelmary have been penalised for their beliefs about marriage.
“Not everyone will agree with Peter and Hazelmary’s beliefs, but a lot of people will think it is shame that the law doesn’t let them live and work according to their own values under their own roof.
“Something has gone badly wrong with our equality laws when good, decent people like Peter and Hazelmary are penalised but extremist hate preachers are protected.”
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:
“This was the wrong decision. A number of judgments have now elevated sexual orientation rights above historic freedom of belief. This was never the intention of Parliament, and has no democratic mandate.
“Bed and breakfast owners have now become another category of people in the UK who will be penalised if they try to serve the public without compromising their religious beliefs.
“We are heading towards a two-tier society where only those who subscribe to secular, humanistic values will be able to operate in many areas in the public sphere.
“With full homosexual marriage now on the horizon, protecting conscience will become more important than ever.”