Homosexual activists want the Earl of Devon’s castle to be slapped with a huge inheritance tax bill because of the Earl’s religious beliefs on marriage.
Lord Devon, a Christian, does not wish to allow homosexual civil partnership ceremonies at his family home, Powderham Castle, which is one of the oldest family houses in England.
Because of this his licence to hold civil ceremonies at his castle has been revoked by Devon County Council. The decision will cost the historic estate up to £200,000 a year in lost income.
But homosexual lobby group Stonewall also wants the Earl to be penalised by the Treasury.
The castle has an exemption from inheritance tax because it is open to the public. Stonewall claims that Lord Devon’s refusal to allow civil partnership ceremonies at the castle means he should lose this exemption.
Ben Summerskill, the chief executive of Stonewall, said: “We shall certainly be asking the Treasury about Lord Devon’s inheritance tax exemption.
“The inheritance tax regulations appear to suggest clearly that it should be withdrawn if his premises are not accessible to all members of the public without exception.”
However, critics say the Stonewall complaint is malicious and unfounded. Powderham Castle and its grounds are open to all members of the public regardless of their sexual orientation.
This is the latest in a series of aggressive incidents where ‘gay rights’ laws have been used to target those who believe marriage is restricted to one man and one woman.
Last week an employment tribunal considered the case of Islington Council which wants to sack a Christian registrar because of her religious beliefs on marriage.
In the last few days newspapers have reported that the Roman Catholic Church is withdrawing from a number of vital adoption services because it fears being sued over its beliefs on sexual ethics.