By Rex Wockner
A British gay couple, Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, who are in a civil partnership, will receive $2,872 each in damages from Cornwall hotel owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull, Christians who refused to rent them a room with a double bed.
The ruling was handed down Jan. 18 by the Bristol County Court, which found that the Christians violated the nation’s ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In court, the couple claimed they hadn’t discriminated based on sexual orientation because they also refuse to rent such rooms to unmarried heterosexual couples.
Gay leader Peter Tatchell commented: “People of faith should not be permitted to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against other people. … If the court had ruled that the Bulls were allowed to ban gay couples from sleeping together in the same room, it would have opened the floodgates to a deluge of similar religious-motivated claims for exemption from the equality laws.”
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement’s chief executive, the Rev. Sharon Ferguson, added: “Peter and Hazel Bull may well have sincere convictions about the nature of marriage — this ruling does not deny them these convictions. But if you are running a business you must make your services available to all without discrimination … and excluding people, especially when our scriptures are full of exhortations to welcome the stranger … is no way to defend and uphold Christian values.”