Fifteen years ago, hoteliers Peter and Hazelmary Bull made some mocking headlines when reporters noticed their stodgy guest policy: No double rooms for unmarried couples. “You have got to have principles,” Mrs. Bull told the Mirror at the time, under the headline “You Couldn’t Make It Up.”
The Bulls had been turning away unwed mini-breakers from their Cornish guesthouse since 1986, and no one had sued them for it yet. It was, after all, no crime to be the least-cool B&B in England.
That appears to have changed. Last month a British appeals court upheld a £3,600 fine against the Bulls, who in 2008 turned down Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy for a double room, despite their being joined in a civil partnership. The British government has recognized such unions since 2005; the Bulls, born-again Christians, do not. Messrs. Hall and Preddy sued, on the grounds that their rights had been violated under the U.K.’s 2007 Equality Act, which bars sexual-orientation discrimination in the provision of services.
The Bulls are now hoping to appeal to the U.K. Supreme Court and, if that fails, the European Court of Human Rights. British law currently exempts some religious institutions from some nondiscrimination laws, but commercial guesthouses don’t count. While the Bulls are perfectly entitled to be Christian in private, their business is a “service and public function” under British law, because they offer their services to the “public.”Continue Reading on online.wsj.com