UK: Anti-gay Christian B&B owner loses latest appeal

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A Christian guest house owner in Berkshire who was found to have discriminated against a gay couple has lost her latest case at the Court of Appeal, but can now take it to the Supreme Court.

Susanne Wilkinson refused to let Michael Black and John Morgan share the same bed at The Swiss Bed and Breakfast in Cookham, Berkshire, during March 2010.

She lost her case against the couple in October 2012 and both men 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.

On Tuesday, Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson, Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice McCombe, in the Court of Appeal in London, dismissed Mrs Wilkinson’s challenge, but gave her permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The appeal, on 9 October, will be heard at the same time as that of Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who refused to let Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy share a bedroom at their guest house in Cornwall during 2008.

In January 2011 a judge at Bristol County Court ruled the Bulls’ behaviour amounted to direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, and awarded a total of £3,600 damages to Mr Hall and Mr Preddy.

The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal to refuse people goods and services on the grounds of sexual orientation.