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Christian hotel owners launch appeal to gay couple's court win

A devout Christian couple, who were forced to pay compensation to a gay couple who tried to stay in their B&B, launch an appeal.

The Royal Courts of Justice in London. [File photo]
The Royal Courts of Justice in London. [File photo]
Image: nikoretro via Flickr

A CHRISTIAN COUPLE who were ordered to pay compensation to a gay couple who were denied accommodation in their family B&B have launched an appeal in London.

Peter and Hazel Bull were forced to pay £3,600 in compensation to the couple, Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy from Bristol.

The pair had a booking to stay in a double room at the Chyvorvah Hotel, owned by the Bulls, in September 2008 – but were refused a room on arrival on the basis that they were not married – despite their being in a civil partnership.

Bristol County Court awarded Hall and Preddy £1,800 each in damages, agreeing with their claim that the B&B’s refusal to accommodate them was a “direct discrimination” against them.

Today the Bulls went to an appeals court in London to argue that their decision not to allow the gay couple to stay in their premises was not because of their orientation – but was simply because they were not married.

The Guardian quotes the Bulls’ counsel James Dingemans who told the judges that the Bristol court had “erred in failing to balance the respective rights in this case”.

The couple had prevented hundreds of unmarried couples – regardless of their orientation – from sharing a double bed, and were not prejudiced against gay people, he argued.

“[Their] beliefs may be considered outdated, uneconomic for those operating a private hotel, but, we respectfully submit, they are entitled to manifest those beliefs.”

A note on the bookings page of their website also says that the couple has a “deep regard for marriage (being the union of one man to one woman for life to the exclusion of all others)”, and that for this reason they only offer double rooms to married couples.

After the original case, one of the gay couple said they had not expected that “in 2008 in Britain, we needed to ask if we would be would be [welcome]“.

They had called in advance to ensure their pet dog would be allowed to travel with them, but had not thought to ask whether their own status – as a couple who are legally married, but not religiously so – would be a problem.

The appeal is continuing.

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Gavan Reilly

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