Christians who denied gay couple hotel room lose UK court case

Wed Nov 27, 2013 7:22am EST
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By Estelle Shirbon

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday an appeal from a devoutly Christian couple who denied two gay men a room at their hotel, saying this constituted discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

In its judgment, the court said the high-profile case and the legal issues it had raised were "a measure of how far we have come in the recognition of same-sex relationships".

The Christian couple had argued that they should not be forced to facilitate what they regard as a sin by allowing unmarried couples to share a bed. They argued they were discriminating against homosexuals only "indirectly" because they would also have refused a room to unmarried heterosexuals.

The court rejected their argument, noting that the gay couple were in a civil partnership, a union for same-sex couples recognized under British law which gives very similar rights to those enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.

"Marriage and civil partnership exist both to recognise and to encourage stable, committed, long-term relationships. It is very much in the public interest that intimate relationships be conducted in this way," the court ruled.

"Now that, at long last, same-sex couples can enter into a mutual commitment which is the equivalent of marriage, the suppliers of goods, facilities and services should treat them in the same way."


The Christian couple, Hazelmary and Peter Bull, refused to let Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall stay in a double room at the Chymorvah House hotel in Cornwall, southwest England, in 2008.   Continued...

Hotel owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull walk outside a branch of the High Court in central London, November 8, 2011. REUTERS/Andrew Winning