The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed today’s Court of Appeal judgement upholding the ruling that Christian hotel owners Peter and Hazel Bull unlawfully discriminated on grounds of sexual orientation against Martyn Hall and Steve Preddy in refusing them a double room.
In the appeal, the judges acknowledged that all sides have strongly held beliefs, but ruled that the previous ruling was correct in concluding that the Bulls had breached the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation Regulations) 2007 (now Equality Act 2010). As the hotel is not a religious organisation but a business, it is not entitled to exemption from these laws.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented,
‘Although the right to your religious or non-religious beliefs is absolute, it is legitimate for the right to act on those beliefs to be restrained so that the rights of others are not violated. Our equality law protects religious people on those grounds in exactly the same way that it protects gay people – but no more than that.
‘In this particular case, the court has once again struck the correct balance between the right to freedom of religion and the right not to be discriminated against and we welcome it. The narrative whipped up by political Christian groups around cases such as this, that Christians are being marginalised and their beliefs ignored, is a false and misleading narrative. Instead, what we are seeing time and again is the courts upholding the rights of people not to be discriminated against on the arbitrary convictions of someone who does not wish to treat them equally – and that is how it should be in a decent society.’
For further comment or information, please contact Andrew Copson on 07855 380 633.
The full judgment can be read at http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/media/judgments/2012/bull-v-hall-and-preddy
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.