The Christian owners of a Cornish B&B who were sued by a homosexual couple because of their policy of only allowing married couples to share double rooms are taking their case to the Court of Appeal today.
Earlier this year a judge ordered Peter and Hazelmary Bull, the owners of the Chymorvah hotel in Cornwall, to pay £3,600 in damages.
But Mr and Mrs Bull appealed the decision and their case is being heard in the Court of Appeal today and tomorrow. A judgment is not expected immediately.
The Bulls’ legal defence is being funded by The Christian Institute’s Legal Defence Fund.
Mr and Mrs Bull’s double room policy has been in place since they opened the Chymorvah guesthouse in 1986 and the policy is applied consistently to all unmarried couples whether homosexual or heterosexual.
But Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy brought a claim of sexual orientation discrimination against the Bulls after they were denied double bed accommodation in September 2008.
The claim was brought under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, each man seeking up to £5,000 in damages. The litigation was financed by the Government-funded Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Mr and Mrs Bull contested the claim, saying that their double bed policy applies to all unmarried couples regardless of sexual orientation. They said it is based on their beliefs about marriage, not hostility to any sexual orientation.
Just days before Mr Preddy and Mr Hall arrived at the guesthouse, a letter had been sent to the establishment from homosexual lobby group, Stonewall.
The letter claimed that Mr and Mrs Bull’s double room policy was unlawful. Stonewall denies that the litigation is a ‘set up’.