The highest court in the UK, the Supreme Court, has announced that it will grant the Christian couple who refused to let a gay couple stay in their Bed and Breakfast leave to appeal an earlier ruling.
Back in 2008, civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy were denied a double room at a hotel in Cornwall. The Christian proprietors, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, said that they refused a double room to all unmarried couples. What followed was a landmark court decision in January 2011 which awarded £1,800 each to Mr Preddy and Mr Hall.
Judge Andrew Rutherford broke new ground by insisting that in the eyes of the law there is no difference between a civil partnership and a marriage. Rutherford ruled that the Bulls had breached equality legislation by not allowing a gay couple in a civil partnership to share a room.
The 66 year-old and her husband, 70, live at the seven-bedroom Chymorvah Private Hotel near Penzance, Cornwall, and have only ever allowed married couples to share a double room since they opened for business 25 years ago.
Mrs Bull said that the verdict had serious implications for the religious liberty of Christians who would be forced to act against ‘deeply and genuinely held beliefs’.
At the Court of Appeal in February 2012, the Bulls’ lawyer, James Dingemans QC said: ‘The Bulls have an absolute right to believe that extra-marital sexual behaviour is wrong and a qualified right to manifest that belief.’
The Christian Institute has supported their legal campaign for the past four years. Spokesman Simon Calvert said: ‘Peter and Hazelmary have been penalised for their beliefs about marriage.’
The Bulls have lost two appeals against Judge Rutherford’s ruling, one in Bristol and the other at the Court of Appeal. The appeal judges heard that the Bulls thought any sex outside marriage was a ‘sin’, but denied they had discriminated against Mr Hall and Mr Preddy. It is now up to the Supreme Court to deliver a final verdict.