Gay-only B&Bs probed by equality commission
Tue, 22 Feb 2011
Homosexual-only hotels are set to be investigated by the Government’s equality watchdog for potential unlawful discrimination against heterosexuals.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) says it must establish an “objective balance”, having spent £15,320 of taxpayers’ money targeting Christian-run hotels and guesthouses.
Last year the Commission funded a controversial legal case against a Christian-run B&B for restricting double rooms to married couples.
The case against Peter and Hazelmary Bull involved a clash of rights and the Equality Commission was criticised for backing one side against the other.
Now the Commission is trying to redress the imbalance. In a statement, it said: “As discriminatory issues concerning ‘Christian’ bed and breakfast establishments and hotels have been officially brought to our attention, and as we are testing the law in this area, there is a need for the Commission to establish an ‘objective balance’.
“We are, therefore, looking in to the matter of ‘gay-only’ hotels’/B&B establishments and the potentially discriminatory policies towards heterosexual couples that some of those ‘gay-only’ establishments may hold.”
The EHRC has far-reaching powers to enforce equality duties and support legal actions to “push the boundaries of the law”.
Earlier this month The Times reported that the quango was to have its budget cut by almost 60 per cent.
The newspaper said that the Commission’s budget will be cut to £22.5 million before the next General Election. Its budget has already been reduced from £60m to £53m by the Government.
Peter and Hazelmary Bull, the owners of the Christian-run guesthouse, are set to appeal the decision against them. The Christian Institute has agreed to fund the appeal.
Mr and Mrs Bull were taken to court by Steven Preddy and his homosexual civil partner Martyn Hall.
His Hon. Judge Rutherford ruled against the Christians, declaring that they had acted unlawfully in not allowing Mr Preddy and Mr Hall to occupy a double room.
The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, Judge Rutherford found, say a homosexual civil partnership should be treated in the same way as a marriage when providing goods or services.
Since the court ruling, the guesthouse has been targeted by numerous homosexual couples attempting to book double rooms in an apparent attempt to destroy the business.
Mrs Bull, 66, has also received abusive and menacing phone calls.