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January 18th, 2011
07:58 AM ET

Christian B&B owners discriminated against gays, UK court finds

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

A Christian couple who refused a room in their bed and  breakfast to a gay couple broke British equality law, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Peter and Hazel Bull who run a bed and breakfast in Cornwall in western  England denied being anti-gay, saying they refuse double rooms to any unmarried  couple.

"The Bulls made it clear that they did not hold any hostility towards  homosexuals and applied their policy of 'only giving double rooms to married  couples' equally to both homosexual and heterosexual guests alike," the  Christian Legal Centre said in their defense.

But Judge Andrew Rutherford ruled the Bulls had discriminated against  Martyn Hall and Steve Preddy on the ground of sexual orientation and awarded  them 1,800 pounds (about $2,900) each, according to Britain's Equality and  Human Rights Commission, which supported the gay couple.

Hall and Preddy said they were extremely pleased with the outcome.

"When we booked this hotel ... we checked that (it) would allow us to  bring our dog, but it didn't even cross our minds that in 2008 we would have to  check whether we would be welcome ourselves," they said in a statement released by the commission.

They are civil partners, and they said they were "really pleased" that  the ruling confirmed "our civil partnership has the same status in law as a  marriage between a man and a woman, and that regardless of each person's  religious beliefs, no one is above the law."

The ruling was one of the first under a 2007 British law banning  discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, the commission said.

The British gay-rights group Stonewall is "delighted" with the outcome,  its chief executive Ben Summerskill said.

"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," he said, adding: "Religious freedom shouldn't be used as a  cloak for prejudice."

But the director  of the Christian Legal Centre said the court had  "decided to override the freedoms of Mr. and Mrs. Bull.

"Today's judgment is yet further evidence that the so-called 'equality'  legislation, which was intended to protect Christians along with many others in  society, is treating some more equally than others and leaving Christians  marginalized," Andrea Williams of the Legal Centre said.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Faith • Homosexuality • United Kingdom

soundoff (261 Responses)
  1. hallmark inn

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    October 3, 2012 at 4:26 am |
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    August 27, 2012 at 5:48 am |
  4. Emmanual Goldstein

    The funniest line in this is at the end when the guy says that "Christians are being marginalized"....Really? REALLY? Next thing, people will be saying that white middle aged men face horrible discrimination! North and South America and most of Europe bends over backwards to cater to your silly fable-worshiping cult. God-forbid (pun intended), a law is passed that in any way goes against the will of the Christian community–then all of a sudden they are being marginalized?? Talk about hubris.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  5. CW

    @ To all the Its okay to be G-A-Y crowd,

    You know all that want to say that the bible has nothing in the New testiment to say about this behavior here is your proof:

    1 Corinthians 6:9
    9 Or do you not know that wrong-'doers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the s-'ex-'ually immoral nor ido-'laters nor adult-'erers nor men who have s-'ex with men

    January 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • QS

      Oooo, ouch, that stings...guess I'll have to go repent and sell my soul to the local cult.

      As I've said before, to many others, your book holds no sway over anyone but you and that's as it should be. The fact that people like you believe everybody else absolutely MUST follow this book speaks volumes as to your own personal belief of what America stands for....which is not your specific religion.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Know What

      @CW

      "1 Corinthians 6:9"

      Good ol' Paul of Tarsus again... so, he was a hom.ophobe, and was not even a fan of hetero s3x - he thought it was better for all to remain single, as he was (not sure how he figured to 'multiply and be fruitful', though).

      January 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Don

      Why should I care what your book of fables has to say?

      January 19, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • kindless

      More crap from that politician Paul. My father used to say that all the politicians and charlatans since didn't even do a good job of organizing and being consistent with the stuff they dreamt up to try to control people – that they were caught with their pants down when the bible was first translated so that common folk could read it. So very true.

      August 27, 2012 at 6:08 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      CW: Thankfully your book of fairy tales can't be used to make laws and thus it doesn't matter what it says when it comes to gay people. You are a bigot!

      October 3, 2012 at 4:33 am |
  6. Ozymandias71

    This was an excellent article. Naturally, I keep seeing the same arguments used over and over (and over and over):

    * 'The B&B can refuse service to anyone they want' – no they CAN'T if they have a business that caters to the public, otherwise they can be sued and possibly even lose their licenses.

    * 'The B&B didn't discriminate against anyone' – yes they did. Their entire argument was based on the idea that a Civil Partnership did NOT equal a marriage – which is completely against British law, which considers Civil Partnerships and Marriage to be equal in all but name.

    * 'The B&B owners are being attacked for their faith!' – Sorry, but your religious beliefs are irrelevant when you open a place of business, with licensing agreements that REQUIRE you to follow non-discrimination laws. BTW – isn't it sad that ONCE AGAIN 'Christians' are wailing about their religious freedoms being taken away in cases like this, when all it boils down to is the freedom to discriminate 'because Gawd sez so'?

    And of course, all the selective buffet-style Bible quoting by 'Christians' condemning LGBTs like myself to an eternity of torture, death, etc. etc. etc. In all the responses, it cracks me up that these same 'Christians' whine about 'verses taken out of context' when anyone brings up Levitical prohibitions on food, mixed fabrics, slavery (in other words, Levitical 'abominations' that interfere with THEIR 21st century freedoms) – as if they weren't guilty of doing the same.

    January 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • QS

      Wonderfully stated, thanks Ozy! 🙂

      January 19, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Don

      Properly, Ozymandias, they can refuse service to whomever they want. That laws in many places infringe upon that right just shows how self-absorbed some people are. Further, there's nothing inherently wrong with discrimination. Otherwise: women can never say no to an offer of s.ex.

      January 19, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
  7. Joan

    Peace people...we all have to live together.

    January 19, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  8. Mike, not me

    The Bulls had received a letter from ga-y rights group Stonewall a month earlier informing them about equality legislation, prompting sus-pi-cions that they were deliberately targeted..

    http://www.christiantoday.com/article/judge.rules.against.christian.guesthouse.owners.who.refused.civil.partners/27378.htm

    January 19, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  9. EnglishGuy

    Forget all this religious and discrimanation nonsense. Looking at the picture of them, who is the batsman and who is the bowler??? Who gives and who recieves????????

    January 19, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • truth be trolled

      The article I'm looking at doesn't show a picture. Are they both buff and fit?

      August 27, 2012 at 6:11 am |
  10. Vince

    Did anyone ever think that people follow religion because they need something to believe in? There is enough horror in this world with war, crime etc that folks are not able to control they require some king of comfort in their life. If you don't agree with it that is fine but who are you to pick on Christians, Jews, Muslims etc? Are you that insecure that you have to try and belittle someone for what makes them feel good or do you feel left out? No religion is perfect and you will find bigotry along the way in ALL of them.

    January 19, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • QS

      I would probably agree, for the most part, except that that would require it to be true that most people only follow a religion to make themselves feel good. It's more about their fear of death and not being sure of an afterlife. Religion only exists because of the fear of humans.

      But since that concept you mention is not true, I can't agree. Why is it not true? Because there are enough people out there who voted for something like Prop. 8 in California that are using their beliefs against others to determine their legal standing in society. If that's your idea of what makes somebody feel good due to the religion they follow, I want even less to do with religion than I do now.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  11. Vince

    It's their establishmnet. They can refuse service to anyone they want to.

    January 19, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • QS

      Indeed they can deny service to anyone....and they must accept the consequences of doing so.

      January 19, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      However what they can't do is say that it is okay for a hetero couple to stay together in a room but not a gay couple. Once they crossed the line, they discriminated against these men and they deserve everything they get.

      October 3, 2012 at 4:36 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.