UK gay couple win case against Christian hotel

18th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

A British court on Tuesday awarded a gay couple 3,600 pounds (5,800 dollars, 4,300 euros) after they successfully sued Christian hotel owners for refusing to let them stay in a double room.

A judge ruled that Peter and Hazelmary Bull were breaking the law when they denied Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy a room at their hotel in Cornwall, southwest England, in September 2008.

Judge Andrew Rutherford said he accepted the Bulls "genuinely hold a perfectly orthodox Christian belief in the sanctity of marriage and the sinfulness of homosexuality" but said their views were out of date.

The Bulls had denied discriminating against the couple because they were gay, saying they had a long-standing policy of banning all unmarried couples from sharing a bed, founded on their Christian beliefs.

Judge Rutherford rejected their argument, however, and in a written judgement at Bristol County Court in southwestern England awarded Hall and Preddy 1,800 pounds each in damages.

"The only conclusion which can be drawn is that the refusal to allow them to occupy the double room which they had booked was because of their sexual orientation... and that this is direct discrimination," he said.

Preddy, 38, and Hall, 46, said they were extremely pleased with the outcome.

"We checked that the hotel would allow us to bring our dog, but it didn't even cross our minds that in 2008 we would have to check whether we would be welcome ourselves," they said in a statement.

"We're really pleased that the judge has confirmed what we already know -- that in these circumstances our civil partnership has the same status in law as a marriage between a man and a woman, and that, regardless of each person's religious beliefs, no one is above the law."

The judge granted the Bulls leave to appeal and Hazelmary Bull, 66, said she and her 70-year-old husband would consult with their lawyers.

She said they were "obviously disappointed" with the result, adding: "We are trying to live and work in accordance with our Christian faith."

© 2011 AFP

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