Christian hotel owners take appeal against discrimination ruling to Supreme Court
The Christian owners of a guesthouse who refused to allow a gay couple to stay in a room with a double bed have obtained permission to take their case to the Supreme Court. The original judgement of Bristol County Court in January last year found that Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who run Chymorvah House in Marazion, Cornwall, had unlawfully discriminated against Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, who are civil partners. The appeal court re-affirmed this view in February this year, ruling that the guesthouse is not exempt from anti-discrimination laws because it is a business and not a religious organisation. The British Humanist Association (BHA) believes that Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy were victims of unlawful discrimination, and welcomed the first two judgements on this case. The BHA is therefore disappointed that Peter and Hazelmary Bull have been given permission to take their appeal against these judgements to the Supreme Court.
Peter and Hazelmary Bull are Christians who regard any sex outside marriage as sinful. They argued that their policy of restricting rooms with a double bed to married couples was directed towards sexual practice, not sexual orientation. However, when dismissing their appeal in February, Sir Andrew Morritt, Chancellor of the High Court, said that this restriction was ‘absolute’ in relation to homosexuals but not to heterosexuals, because gay people are currently not allowed to get married. He said that ‘in those circumstances it must constitute discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation’.
Pavan Dhaliwal, BHA Head of Public Affairs, commented ‘some Christian groups claim that the previous judgements on this case prove that Christians in this country are being persecuted, and are prevented from expressing their religious beliefs. But this is false, because the right to express your beliefs does not extend to the right to discriminate against someone in the provision of goods and services, purely because you have arbitrarily decided that they are not equal to everyone else. We are disappointed that the appeal against the previous judgements has been allowed to go to the Supreme Court. However, we hope that the Supreme Court will reject the appeal, and uphold the view that Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy were subjected to unlawful discrimination.’
BHA commentary on the previous two court rulings:
Media coverage of the decision to allow the appeal to go to the Supreme Court: