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Case on 'orientation discrimination' postponed

A judge has postponed his ruling over a case relating to Christian guesthouse operators Peter and Hazelmary Bull who refused accommodation to a homosexual couple.
 

 
CHRISTIAN GUEST HOUSE operators Peter and Hazelmary Bull are being sued by a homosexual couple who claim the policy is discriminatory and are seeking £5,000 in damages.

This week at the opening of the trial around 30 people gathered in front of the court singing hymns and holding placards declaring ‘It’s their home’, a stark reminder that the guesthouse is also the Bull’s home.

Mr and Mrs Bull’s double room policy has been in place since they opened the Chymorvah guesthouse in 1986 and the policy is applied consistently to all unmarried couples regardless of their sexual orientation.

However Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy brought a claim of sexual orientation discrimination against the Bulls after they were denied double bed accommodation in September 2008.

They are bringing a claim under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, seeking up to £5,000 for damaging their feelings. The litigation is being financed by the Government-funded Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The Bull’s legal defence is being financed by The Christian Institute, a charity that protects the religious liberty of Christians. The Institute’s Mike Judge has said: “This Christian couple are being put on trial for their beliefs. Equality laws are being used as a sword rather than a shield.”

In contesting the claim, the Christian couple are saying that their double bed policy applies to all unmarried couples regardless of sexual orientation. They say it is based on their beliefs about marriage, not hostility to any sexual orientation.

In the Highlands guest house operator Tom Forrest of Kinlochewe found himself in the headlines over the same issue. Most recently he has written (7/4/10) to the Press and Journal as follows:

SIR, – I was interested in [a writer's] views regarding a “free society” and standing up for one’s rights (“Turning away gay couples”, Letters, April 6). In my experience, the only people in this alleged “free society” with rights would appear to be the homosexual community, who have, incidentally, to gain credibility, aligned themselves with the disabled. Being a cripple myself, I do not wish to be used as a pawn to further their cause.

Perhaps Mr Milligan should consider whether or not I have similar rights of “freedom of speech and freedom of choice”?

As to the comments by Mr and Mr Martin (Letters, April 6), I do not consider myself to be a religious fundamentalist, rather a normal Christian who lives a normal life and maintains certain moral standards.

I have never stated that I do not want homosexuals in my establishment; what I have said is that I will not allow them to share a double bedroom. I do accommodate the more sensible and less radical members of the homosexual community who respect my principles.

As for my being bigoted, surely this relates to an intolerant person who blindly supports a particular view. The Martins have, inadvertently I am sure, put themselves in this frame.

Having spent a lifetime travelling worldwide, and being a time-served and now, due to defending our rights to free speech and choice, a crippled former member of our armed forces, I consider myself to be worldly wise and broadminded.

Tom Forrest,
Cromasaig,
Kinlochewe.

Around the time of writing to the newspaper Mr. Forrest insisted in an STV news report that gay men and lesbians were welcome to stay in his establishment's twin rooms, but also added: "I will refuse point blank to allow them to share a double bed. I do not approve of the homosexual act and any act of intercourse should be between a man and a woman. It's nothing to do with the bible, it's to do with nature."

Rev. David Robertson of St. Peter's Free Church in Dundee also wrote to the media on the subject.

Regarding the court action involving the Bull's, a ruling is expected after Christmas, with the judge commenting that the case is the first of its kind and raises complex legal issues that need careful consideration.
 


Footnote:
Representatives of the Christian Institute recently addressed a well-attended meeting in Inverness where Callum Webster gave a video interview to Christians Together.

Christians Together, 14/12/2010

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