UK: Gay couple win B&B case against Christian owners

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A gay couple who were turned away from a B&B have won their court case.

Michael Black, 64, and John Morgan, 59, were prevented from sharing a room together at the Swiss Bed and Breakfast in Cookham, Berkshire.

They began legal proceedings against the owners, Susanne and Mike Wilkinson in January 2011.

Mr Morgan and Mr Black had already booked a room and paid a deposit when they arrived at the B&B in March 2010, but Mrs Wilkinson turned them away when she realised they were a couple.

She said that allowing them to stay would violate her religious beliefs.

The couple called the police over her refusal and were told they could make a civil claim against the Wilkinsons.

The Press Association reported on Thursday, the couple from Brampton near Huntingdon, were awarded £1,800 each at Reading County Court for “injury to feelings”.

Recorder Claire Moulder said that by refusing access to a double room, Mrs Wilkinson had “treated them less favourably than she would have treated an unmarried heterosexual couple in the same circumstances”.

The judge accepted that Mrs Wilkinson was genuine about her Christian beliefs and had also stopped unmarried heterosexual couples from sharing a double bed.

Mrs Wilkinson was granted permission to appeal against the ruling and said she would give it “serious consideration”.

Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill welcomed the verdict and said:

“This judgement vindicates Stonewall’s hard work to make sure businesses can’t turn people away simply because they happen to be gay.

“It’s a shame tens of thousands of pounds have been wasted reiterating this well-established principle, when any good Christian would surely prefer to have seen that money spent on relieving poverty or tackling hunger.”

The Equality Act makes it illegal to refuse people goods and services on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Earlier this year, two Christian guesthouse owners who prevented a gay couple from staying in one of their double bedrooms in Cornwall, won the right to take their case to the UK Supreme Court.