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Christian B&B owners lose Supreme Court appeal

The Christian owners of a Bed and Breakfast in Cornwall who refused to allow a gay couple to stay on their premises have lost their appeal at the Supreme Court.  In September 2008, Peter and Hazelmary Bull refused to let civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy stay in a double bedroom at their B&B, the Chymorvah Hotel in Marazion, Cornwall.  Mr and Mrs Bull were then ordered to pay damages to Mr Hall and Mr Preddy, but they appealed against this decision and took their case to the Court of Appeal and then to the Supreme Court.  However, the Supreme Court has today unanimously dismissed their appeal.  The British Humanist Association (BHA) believes that Mr Hall and Mr Preddy were victims of discrimination, and welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision.

Mr and Mrs Bull said that their decision to refuse a double room to Mr Hall and Mr Preddy was based on a ‘religiously-informed judgment of conscience’.   In 2011, a judge at Bristol County Court ruled that their behaviour constituted direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, and ordered them to pay £3,600 damages to Mr Hall and Mr Preddy.  Mr and Mrs Bull’s appeal against this decision was rejected by the Court of Appeal in February 2012, but in August 2012 they were given permission to take their case to the Supreme Court.  However, five Supreme Court judges ruled against them today.  The judges said that although Mr and Mrs Bull have the right to express their religious beliefs under the European Convention on Human Rights, equality law’s limitation of this is a justified and proportionate way to protect the rights of others.

Pavan Dhaliwal, BHA Head of Public Affairs, commented ‘We are glad that the Supreme Court has unanimously decided that Mr and Mrs Bull behaved in a discriminatory way, and have dismissed their appeal.  Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal under equality law, which was made clear in each of the previous decisions in this case.  The right to religious freedom enables the expression of religious belief, but not the right to impose one’s belief on others, and certainly not to discriminate in the provision of goods and services which would normally be open to all members of the public.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at pavan@humanism.org.uk or on 0773 843 5059.

The Guardian – Christian guesthouse owners lose appeal over right to bar gay couples: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/27/christian-guesthouse-owners-appeal-gay-couples

BBC News – Gay snub Cornish B&B owners lose Supreme Court appeal: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-25119158

Previous BHA news article – Supreme Court hears Christian guesthouse discrimination case: https://humanism.org.uk/2013/10/10/supreme-court-hears-christian-guesthouse-discrimination-case/

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.

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