UK: Christian B&B pair following ‘God’s word’ in discriminating against gay couple

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Peter and Hazelmary Bull were adhering to “God’s perfect standards” in their decision to prevent a same-sex couple from sharing a room at their guest house, the Supreme Court has been told.

The country’s highest court in the land began hearing their arguments on Wednesday. 

Civil partners Martin Hall and Steven Preddy were turned away from the Chymorvah Hotel near Penzance in 2008 under the Bulls’ policy of not allowing unmarried couples to share rooms.

Judges have twice ruled the Bulls broke equality laws in the running of their business.

In February, the Court of Appeal upheld a ruling against the Bulls made by Bristol County Court in early 2011.

It stated that 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.

On Wednesday, Aidan O’Neill QC, for the Bulls, told the Supreme Court in a written submission that the case was about the interaction between the “social demands of equality law” and the protection given to individuals under human rights law.

Mr O’Neill said the Bulls’ decision had been founded on their “religiously informed judgment of conscience”.

“The Bulls are Christian believers. They believe the Bible to be God’s word, which reveals God’s perfect standards,” he said. “They take this responsibility very seriously and always strive to keep their consciences clear before God.”

He added: “If the Bulls are required by law to provide double-bedded rooms in their hotel to persons who are not in a monogamous opposite sex marriage with one another, then, in order to remain faithful witnesses to their religious beliefs and true to their religiously informed conscience, they will need to cease operating their hotel and, indeed, to withdraw from providing overnight hospitality to any section of the public.”

Robin Allen QC, for Mr Hall and Mr Preddy, disagreed.

“They have lived a life for many years in which as two gay men in an established, long term and committed relationship,” he said, in written submissions given to the justices.

“They have received less favourable treatment compared to an opposite-sex couple who are married.”

The Bulls were at the hearing to see Mr O’Neill outline arguments to the judges.

The hearing continues.