Church minister sues hotel after disruption to marriage conference

Rev Harry Coulter(Photo: The Christian Institute)

A church minister who says his marriage conference was halted halfway through by hotel staff is to take legal action.

Rev Harry Coulter says he was forced to end his conference at the Balmoral Hotel in Belfast early after staff received a complaint. 

The 'Marriage Matters' conference took place last October in support of traditional marriage and featured Tony Rucinski from the Coalition for Marriage as the guest speaker. 

Fifty people had gathered to attend the conference, which was held in response to the imposition of same-sex marriage on Northern Ireland by Westminster. 

Rev Coulter says that halfway through the conference, hotel staff said they had received a complaint from another patron and demanded that the event be wrapped up. 

The Christian Institute, which is defending the minister, said that 50 people had to leave the hotel, including Rucinski, who had travelled from Wales to speak at the event. 

The organisation said that Rev Coulter decided to begin legal proceedings after failing to receive a response from the hotel when he wrote seeking an explanation and compensation. 

Simon Calvert, Deputy Director for Public Affairs at the Christian Institute, said: "For the hotel to take Mr Coulter's booking, take his money, provide signage and set up the event, only to stop it halfway through, causing maximum inconvenience and embarrassment, is an outrage.

"We've got to put an end to what we consider to be attempts to punish people for believing in one man-one woman marriage. After all, it's what most people believed in until recently.

"The Supreme Court has reaffirmed that belief in traditional marriage is worthy of respect in a democratic society. So we are very happy to be supporting Mr Coulter in his legal action to defend his freedom to hold and express these beliefs without being humiliated like this."

The Balmoral Hotel has been contacted for comment.