Wednesday, 04 December 2013

U.K. Christian Business Owners Lose Appeal on Gay Discrimination Ruling

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The owners of a bed and breakfast in the U.K. have lost an appeal to the British Supreme Court over their conviction on discrimination charges after they refused to allow a homosexual couple to share a double bed at their establishment five years ago.

The BBC reported that the Christian couple, Hazelmary and Peter Bull, had refused to rent a double room at their Cornwall bed and breakfast to homosexual partners Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall in 2008. The Bulls insisted that their actions were not meant to target homosexuals, and that the prohibition extended to any unmarried couple who tried to rent a room from them.

“Sixty-nine-year-old Mrs Bull and her 74-year-old husband said their decision was founded on a 'religiously-informed judgment of conscience,'” reported the BBC.

But in 2011 a lower court ruled that the Bulls had discriminated against the two homosexual men in not renting them the room and fined the couple £3,600 damages (about $5,900). Last year the Bulls lost an appeal of the ruling, and the U.K.'s high court refused to overrule the lower court decision.

“We are deeply disappointed and saddened by the outcome,” said Mrs. Bull following the high court hearing. “We are just ordinary Christians who believe in the importance of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

She pointed out that the couple's bead and breakfast “is not just our business, it's our home. All we have ever tried to do is live according to our own values, under our own roof.”

Commenting on the ruling, Lady Hale, deputy president of the U.K. Supreme Court, insisted that “sexual orientation is a core component of a person's identity which requires fulfillment through relationships with others of the same orientation.”

Hale recalled that homosexuals “were long denied the possibility of fulfilling themselves through relationships with others.... This was an affront to their dignity as human beings which our law has now recognized. Homosexuals can enjoy the same freedom and the same relationships as any others.”

In an apparent admonishment to the Bulls and other Christians, Hale warned that “we should not under-estimate the continuing legacy of those centuries of discrimination [against homosexuals], persecution even, which is still going on in many parts of the world.”

Mike Judge of the U.K. pro-family group Christian Institute said the case demonstrated “that the powers of political correctness have reached all the way to the top of the judicial tree, so much so that even the Supreme Court dare not say anything against gay rights.” He added that “Lady Hale effectively said gay rights are almost untouchable.... This ruling is another slap in the face to Christians, and shows that the elite institutions are saturated with a liberal mindset which cares little about religious freedom.”

Judge challenged Britain's Parliament “to reform the law to allow a more reasonable approach which balances competing rights. Otherwise, Christianity will become the belief that dare not speak its name.”

Mrs. Bull concurred, saying that “Britain ought to be a country of freedom and tolerance, but it seems religious beliefs must play second fiddle to the new orthodoxy of political correctness. Somehow, we have got to find a way of allowing different beliefs to coexist in our society.”

She noted that because of the case, she and her husband were forced to sell their home and business, after spending last winter with little food and no heat in an effort to make their mortgage payments.

When asked by a news reporter if it would have been easier to cave in to the UK's non-discrimination law, which makes homosexual partnerships equal in law to traditional marriage, Mrs. Bull responded: “God demands that our faith doesn't end at the kitchen door. He means your faith to run in every corner of your life. You can't just section Him off like that. So one would think that, dealing with Christians, we would be fair and honest and upright and honorable and live according to the Bible, because the Bible is the Christian's textbook.”

Earlier Mrs. Bull had told the U.K.'s Daily Mail that “gay people are more than welcome to stay” at the couple's bed and breakfast, “but not in the same bed.... How people choose to live their lives is their business, but I am responsible in the eyes of God for what happens in my home.”

She said that “Christians are increasingly marginalized in British society, and what we have here is a head-on collision between the conflicting beliefs of Christians and those of homosexuals. Why should the rights of gay people take precedence over ours?”

Earlier this month, the owner of another U.K. bed and breakfast lost her appeal of a ruling that she had discriminated against a homosexual couple in 2010 when she refused them a double room at her establishment. Susanne Wilkinson, owner of the Swiss Bed and Breakfast in Cookham, Berkshire, said in a statement following the ruling: “Surely in our diverse 21st century UK society there is ample room for a variety of lifestyles with many thousands of other B&Bs being willing to accommodate unmarried couples.”

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