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Gay couple wins appeal over hotel's policy "discrimination"

A Christian couple is told their policy that unmarried couples – including homosexuals – cannot share rooms is unlawful.

Image: Vinni123 via Flickr

A CHRISTIAN COUPLE who run a hotel in Cornwall have been told they acted unlawfully in denying a gay couple a room together.

Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, a gay couple from Bristol, had attended the Chyvorvah Hotel in September 2008 but were refused a room, on the basis they were not married – despite their legally binding civil partnership.

This morning Bristol County Court awarded each of them £1,800 (€2,150) in damages, agreeing with their claim that the B&B’s refusal was a “direct discrimination” against them.

Their civil partnership was legally equivalent to a marriage, the court found – meaning that the refusal of the hotel to accommodate them was based on their homosexuality.

While the court said social attitudes had changed so much in Britain that society would “cut across” some peoples’ beliefs, the judge said he was “quite satisfied” that the defendants had held genuine beliefs.

“In the last 50 years there have been many such instances [...that] have offended sections of the population and in some cases cut across traditional religious beliefs. These laws have come into being because of changes in social attitudes,” Judge Andrew Rutherford wrote.

“Because we wanted to bring our new dog, we checked he would be welcome,” Preddy said afterward. “It didn’t even cross our minds that in 2008 in Britain, we needed to ask if we would be.”

The couple had paid £92 for two nights in the hotel, but were told when they arrived – and when the hotel learned they were gay – that house rules prevented them from staying there.

The hotel’s proprietors, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, said they were “obviously disappointed” with the result, insisting their policy was based on their sincere beliefs about marriage but not hostility to anyone.

Their religious beliefs were being “marginalised” by society, they added.

The Bulls have been granted leave to appeal.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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