In a case watched closely in the United States, today a British hotelier lost his court battle to have the right to refuse accommodations to same-sex couples.
The Court of Appeal has today upheld a landmark court ruling in favour of a gay couple refused a room by the religious owners of Cornwall hotel. Martin Hall and Steven Preddy, civil partners, had successfully sued devout Christians Peter and Hazelmary Bull for sexual orientation discrimination. They had been turned away from the Chymorvah Hotel near Penzance in 2008 under the Bulls’ policy of not allowing unmarried couples to share rooms. In January 2011 a judge at Bristol County Court ruled 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.
Ever since the first ruling in this case, American hate groups have cited it as an example of the coming avalanche of “religious oppression” in the United States. Today’s decision will surely make it into the stump speeches of anti-gay candidates.