B&B Christians ‘followed conscience’, says lawyer

The Christian owners of a B&B who were sued by a same-sex couple over their double bed policy were following their conscience, their lawyer has told the Supreme Court.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull only allow married couples to share a double bed in their Cornish bed and breakfast and they were sued for their stance by two homosexual men.

The Bulls are appealing against a ruling which ordered them to pay £3,600 in damages to Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall.

Bible

Aidan O’Neill QC, a leading human rights lawyer, told the Supreme Court in London that the Bulls’ decision was based on their “religiously informed judgment of conscience”.

He commented: “They believe the Bible to be God’s word, which reveals God’s perfect standards”.

“They take this responsibility very seriously and always strive to keep their consciences clear before God”, Mr O’Neill added.

Impose

The QC also warned against the state enforcing “particular moral or religious views”.

He said the Government should not be “seeking uniformity and imposing it by law”.

Mr O’Neill noted that the European Convention on Human Rights, “allows for a plurality of competing beliefs and voices”.

Taxpayers

The case was heard by five judges, and their ruling is expected to be published towards Christmas time.

The Bulls are being supported by The Christian Institute, while the taxpayer-funded Equality and Human Rights Commission is funding the same-sex couple’s case.

The Bulls’ policy, which applies to heterosexuals and homosexuals alike, has been in place since the business opened, and is well-advertised.

Struck off

But as soon as new gay rights laws were introduced in 2007, the Government’s tourism board for England struck the Bulls’ B&B off their approved list.

In 2009, litigation against the Bulls’ marriage policy began, resulting in a County Court ruling against them in 2011.

Last month it was revealed that Mr and Mrs Bull have put their bed and breakfast up for sale.

Mortgage

The decision to sell the property – which is also their home – was not taken suddenly, Mrs Bull said.

“It was a gradual process; we just noticed more and more that we couldn’t make the mortgage repayments”, she said.

The couple, who have suffered death threats, say they spent parts of last winter shivering and sometimes going hungry.

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