Can gay couples share a room in a Christian B&B?

The new laws on sexual discrimination continue to make their presence felt. What do you do if you’re a gay couple on holiday looking for a B&B? I’ve done it – ring the bell, ask for a double room, wonder what kind of reaction we will get. A couple holidaying in Cornwall who had pre-booked got the ‘Christian’ response.

Martin Hall and Steven Paddy, a gay couple who are civil partners booked a double room in the Chymorvah Private Hotel in Marazion near Penzance in November 2008. When they arrived they were told that the hotel could not honour the booking. Peter and Hazelmary Bull, the owners, both Christians, refused to allow them to stay in a room together. (Pictures of the double rooms gay couples are not allowed to sleep in accompany this blog.)

Martin and Steven have launched a county court claim seeking up to £5,000 in damages alleging “direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation”.

The owners defended the ban saying that they have always barred unmarried couples, whether gay or straight, from sharing a bed. Mrs Bull said: “In 26 years we have never really had a problem with it. I have found people to be very good and understanding. They realise that they are pursuing one lifestyle while we are pursuing another. “I suppose we knew there would be problems with the new law, but I can’t change my beliefs and faith because of that.”

Well, times and the law have changed. You could do things in business 26 years ago that you can’t do now, and for lesbian and gay couples, that’s real progress.

The hotel’s website states: “Here at Chymorvah we have few rules, but please note that as Christians we have a deep regard for marriage (being the union of one man to one woman for life to the exclusion of all others). Therefore, although we extend to all a warm welcome to our home, our double bedded accommodation is not available to unmarried couples – Thank you.”

Mr and Mrs Bull think they are entitled to police the morality of other people. If they had couples to stay in their private house, friends who they thought shouldn’t share a bed, then their might be an uncomfortable conversation and the couple might agree and sleep separately or walk out in a huff. But the Bulls are running a business and the laws of this country apply to them.

The Bulls’ solicitor, Tom Ellis, has said he will argue that the Equality Act infringes their human rights as Christians. He said: “Under the European Convention on Human Rights, people are able to hold a religious belief and manifest it in the way they act.”

The increasingly familiar argument appears, that it is Christians who need protection of their human rights to enable them to hold their religious beliefs and act accordingly. No-one is preventing them from doing that, only of not infringing inappropriately on the lives of others.

All this will change when the churches let go of their sexual prejudices against LGBT people. Christians do not have a human right to be prejudiced.

Comments

  1. Göran Koch-Swahne says

    But are they pursuing this “lifestyle” for themselves, or only for others?

    It seems to me they are unable to tell the difference ;=)

    The mixis of Subjects is a prominent criterion for most disorders ;=)

    I think the court deliberations turn about this question…

  2. Erika Baker says

    Legalities aside – why would you want to stay in a place that tells you in advance that you wouldn’t be made to feel welcome?

  3. David |Dah • veed| says

    My question as well Erika. If the warning is on the website, why subject yourself to the obviously uncomfortable situation that will follow if you try to impose yourself where you are not wanted.

    I support public accommodation laws which demand nondiscrimination, but imposing yourself on a small, privately held business; a hair salon, a B&B, a plumber, etc., is purposely looking for a fight.

    But if the Hilton, the Marriott, or the Sheraton will not rent you a room, I say, "Give 'em h*ll Mary! Give 'em h*ll!"

  4. Alex says

    What I don’t get is that presumably the Bulls believe that everyone has sinned and fallen short, so why are they only excluding the ones who they think might sin sexually?

    I guess excluding all sinners could be quite bad for business though, hence their decision to just allow the ones in lovely nuclear families.

    I’m sure that’s exactly what Jesus would have done.

  5. Colin Coward says

    I don’t understand why anyone would book into a hotel knowing the place has rules which make it impossible for gay couples to share a room. Is it possible this couple booked in deliberately, to provoke what happened, and thus the news story?

    It could be a good test case for the new law. I am also wondering whether putting such a condition on their web site is in itself in contravention of the law. Does anyone know?

  6. Paul (A.) says

    Do the Bulls bar married couples where one partner has a prior divorce?

    Do they even ask?

    Assuming not, they have every right to lose the inevitable lawsuit.

  7. Anonymous says

    Well, within the last 50 years Homosexuality was illegal in the UK, Why?, probably because the Uk had more moral standards than today. But this caused much suffering to those concerned at the time, I don't think that is an excuse to drag Mr & Mrs Bull over the coals for maintaining these Christian morals, which most people seem to appretiate anyway !

  8. Colin Coward says

    Anonymous, why do you need to hide your identity? I am sure you have good reasons to maintain secrecy. You hold to Christian moral values which are different from mine. The majority of people in the country absolutely do not appreciate the prejuice and bigotry towards gay people that a tiny minority in the church, conservative Christians, are obsessed about.

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