Christian B&B owners take gay discrimination case to Supreme Court

PAPeter and Hazelmary Bull were ordered by a court to pay Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy £3,600 after refusing to accommodate them in a double room at their guesthouse.

The Christian owners of a B&B are at the Supreme Court today to challenge a previous ruling that their double bedroom policy discriminated against a gay couple in a civil partnership.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull have been forced to put the Chymorvah B&B in Marazion, near Penzance, up for sale after business suffered as a result of the legal action brought against them by Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall.

Preddy and Hall were refused a double room by the Bulls in 2008 because of their policy that only allowed married couples to share a double bed. The policy was advertised on the B&B website and booking form, and applied to all couples whether homosexual or heterosexual.

However, a county court ruled that the policy was discriminatory and the Bulls were ordered to pay £1,800 to Mr Preddy and the same amount to Mr Hall in damages.

In addition to their business suffering, the Bulls have reportedly suffered vandalism and received death threats.

Now the Bulls are asking the Supreme Court for a more balanced application of rights rather than sexual orientation trumping religion.

They are being supported by The Christian Institute, which is paying for their legal defence.

Mr Preddy and Mr Hall's case is being paid for by the taxpayer-funded Equality and Human Rights Commission.

A new YouGov survey commissioned by Westminster Faith Debates to coincide with the Bulls' appeal has found that over half of people in Britain (57%) do not think B&B owners should be allowed to refuse accommodation to people based on their sexuality. Only a third said they think they should and 11% said they "don't know".

Opinion varied hugely according to age, with over 60s and under 50s sharply divided on the issue. Generally, the younger a person, the more likely they are to be opposed to discrimination against people on the grounds of their sexuality.

In response to the question of whether B&B owners should be allowed to refuse accommodation to people based on their sexuality, 81% of under 24s say they should not.

Half of those aged 60 and over think that B&B owners should be allowed to discriminate against gay couples.