Hoteliers who refused gay couple acted unlawfully

19 January 2011 by
Hoteliers who refused gay couple acted unlawfully

Owners of a hotel in Cornwall who were deemed by a judge to have acted unlawfully for refusing to allow a gay couple a double room are considering appealing against the verdict.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull of the seven-bedroom Chymorvah Hotel in Marazion, near Penzance, said that as Christians they did not believe unmarried couples should share a room.

But Judge Rutherford at Bristol County Court ruled that Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy had suffered direct discrimination and awarded each of them £1,800 in damages.

The couple, from Bristol, had booked to stay at the hotel for a weekend in September 2008.

"Because we wanted to bring our new dog, we checked he would be welcome," said Preddy. "It didn't cross our minds that in 2008 in Britain we need to ask if we would be."

Speaking outside the court, the Bulls said they were disappointed with the result and considering an appeal.

"Our double-bed policy was based on our since beliefs about marriage, not hostility to anybody."

Judge Rutherford said he was satisfied that the defendants' beliefs were genuine, but added social attitudes had changed. "It is not so very long ago that these beliefs of the defendants would have been those accepted as normal by society at large," he said. "Now it is the other way around."

Hall and Preddy's case was backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, while the Christian Institute helped fund the Bulls' legal defence. The Bulls have 21 days to lodge an appeal.

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By Janet Harmer

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