Christian hotel owners’ appeal reaches court today

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The appeal by two Christian hotel owners who refused a gay couple a shared reaches the Court of Appeal in London today.

In January, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who own the Chymorvah Private Hotel near Penzance, were found to have acted unlawfully when denying civil partners Martin Hall and Steven Preddy a room.

The hoteliers were ordered to pay the gay couple £1,800 each in compensation, but were given leave to appeal the ruling.

Judge Rutherford at Bristol Crown Court had said the ruling: “does affect the human rights of the defendants to manifest their religion and forces them to act in a manner contrary to their deeply and genuinely held beliefs.”

He had ruled that the Bulls had directly discriminated against the gay couple on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

The higher court in London, which examines points of law rather than questions of fact, should provide clarification on whether the hotel owners’ religious freedoms allow them to discriminate legally in such a situation.

Mr and Mrs Bull argued that they barred all unmarried couples from sharing rooms regardless of their sexuality. Mr Hall and Mr Preddy were in a civil partnership.

Mr Hall and Mr Preddy’s original case was funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, while the Bulls’ defence was funded by the Christian Institute.