UK B&B Wouldn't Let Gays Stay
November 5, 2012 at 7:19 PM
In March 2010, Michael Black and John Morgan made what they thought was a simple reservation at the Swiss Bed and Breakfast in the UK’s Berkshire area. Imagine their surprise when they were turned away by innkeeper Susanne Wilkinson for being a same-sex couple.Wilkinson said her Christian beliefs did not believe in accommodating unmarried couples in double beds at her B&B that's based in her family home.
Rather than simply asking for their deposit back and slinking away, the couple launched a civil suit against Wilkinson, saying they felt “like lepers”. Now, nearly three years later, they’ve just been awarded £3,600 ($5,754) in damages. In an article in the Guardian, Claire Moulder, judge of Reading County court said while Wilkinson may have universally applied her policy to heterosexuals, the policy was direct discrimination and a breach of equality law. Moulder also stated she believed Wilkinson had "treated them less favourably than she would treat unmarried heterosexual couples in the same circumstances." She also rejected the owner's claim that she hadn't acted in a discriminatory way because she objected to homosexual sexual behavior rather than homosexual sexual orientation.
While Wilkinson's defense team maintains that the innkeeper should be permitted to refuse lodging to those not in married or civil partnership (of which Black and Morgan are not), the judge cited the refusal was in violation of the country's Equality Act of 2010 which bans service providers from discriminating on grounds of sexual orientation.
Wilkinson, whose legal fees have been paid by national charity called the Christian Institute, has said she's considering appealing the judgment stating,
“We believe a person should be free to act upon their sincere beliefs about marriage under their own roof without living in fear of the law. Equality laws have gone too far when they start to intrude into a family home."
What say you? Does a family-owned B&B have the right to make their own rules and regulations when it comes to rooms at the inn? Is this hotel discrimination or right to religious choice?