Christian B&B owners lose Supreme Court appeal: forced to sell business after gay couple complains
BY HILARY WHITE
Thu Nov 28, 2013 17:06 ESTTags: Bulls, Freedom, Gay Marriage, Uk
LONDON, November 28, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Peter and Hazelmary Bull, the Christian hoteliers fined for refusing a single room to two homosexual men in September 2008, have lost their appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court, with the court ruling that their company policy was “discriminatory.”
Despite the fact that the couple proved that their policy applied equally to any unmarried couples, and not just homosexuals, all five judges ruled the Bulls’ policy to be a case of illegal discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, and dismissed their appeal. Two of the judges said the discrimination was “indirect,” but unjustified.
The elderly couple said they were “deeply disappointed and saddened” at the decision that has “reinforced the notion that gay rights must trump everything else.”
They have said that they have been the victims of an ongoing hate campaign, including threats and abusive phone calls and emails, vandalism of their home and car. The Christian Institute reports that wheel nuts were removed from the couple’s car “and recently a dead rabbit was nailed to their fence”. The website of the business was recently hacked and replaced with pornography.
Mrs. Bull told the Christian Institute in September that they had no choice but to sell their business, having gone hungry and without heating last winter in their struggle to make mortgage payments.
“We’re just ordinary Christians who believe in the importance of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” Mrs. Bull said in a statement after the verdict.
Peter and Hazelmary Bull following the Supreme Court ruling.
“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,” she added. “Somehow, we have got to find a way of allowing different beliefs to coexist in our society.”
The Supreme Court deputy president, Lady Hale, said the Bulls are free to “manifest their religion” but by refusing to allow homosexual men to share a double bed in their establishment, they were breaking the law.
In what has been called the first national test case of the Equality Act’s Sexual Orientation Regulations (SOR) for Christians who hold traditional sexual moral beliefs, the Bulls have lost in every court, starting with the Bristol Crown Court in January 2011.
Moreover, Judge Andrew Rutherford declared in the Bristol Crown Court ruling that in law there is no discernable difference between civil partnership and marriage, a ruling which later helped to pass the Conservative government’s “gay marriage” act.
The legal action has had a huge impact on the Bulls’ lives. In addition to being fined £3,600 for the “hurt and embarrassment” felt by the complainants, Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, the Bulls were ordered to pay the latter’s legal expenses.
The Bulls have failed in their efforts to find a way to continue their business enterprise while living their beliefs. The Government’s tourism board for England struck the Bulls’ B&B off their approved list of guesthouses and homosexualist groups and publications have enacted a boycott.
They tried to turn their guesthouse into a non-profit, Christian-only retreat centre, but have recently announced that their legal fight has been so costly they have no choice but to sell their home. They have operated their business for 25 years and have always made their policy known to guests.
Hazelmary Bull has described their situation as exemplifying the ongoing marginalization of Christianity in Britain. With these kinds of rulings, she said, it is clear that “some people are more equal than others.”
Mrs. Bull told the Christian Institute in September, that they came to the decision to sell as “a gradual process”. “We just noticed more and more that we couldn’t make the mortgage repayments” she said.
“Last winter was terrible. We were actually shivering and were hungry. We are coming towards next winter and dreading it. In 2013, two people who worked all their lives at this have ended up cold and hungry. It’s not right.”
She described the loss of their home and business as being like a “death in the family”. “I never thought it would end like this. We are not facing the future with any real enthusiasm.”