Widdecombe and gay Tory defend Cornish B&B owners
Wed, 26 Jan 2011
Ann Widdecombe and a young gay Tory activist have spoken out in support of the Christian guesthouse owners penalised for their beliefs about marriage.
Guesthouse proprietors, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, restrict double rooms to married couples but were sued, successfully, by a gay couple.
Miss Widdecombe, a former MP, wrote in the Daily Express today: “There is a difference between discriminating against somebody because of what he is and refusing to promote or facilitate what he does.
“If the Bulls ran a grocery shop which refused to serve homosexuals then that would be discrimination but to refuse to facilitate their activity or that of an unmarried heterosexual couple by providing a double bed is not. It is the once lawful exercise of conscience against particular deeds.”
She went on to warn that unless this distinction was reinstated, Christians and other people of faith could find themselves barred from running certain kinds of business.
Miss Widdecombe’s concern over the case was echoed by Robert Leitch, an openly homosexual Tory activist.
Writing on the widely-respected ConservativeHome blog, Mr Leitch said: “The reaction to this somewhat traditional yet harmless policy has been remarkable.
“Mr and Mrs Bull have been tagged as homophobes, taken to court, forced to justify their literal interpretation of the Bible, told by the Judge involved that their views are out of date and, finally, given a punishment which will place significant strain upon their business’ finances.
“In the end, the penalty for holding a diverse viewpoint has been extreme.”
He added: “I am not a Christian. I do not hold any such stringent views about married or unmarried couples.
“Yet, as an openly gay man in a happy, long-term relationship, it infuriates me when equality groups tell me that cases such as the above should be celebrated as victories for the ‘homosexual community’.
“Sorry, but I refuse to be confined to any such sub-section of society.”
Mr and Mrs Bull’s plight has also attracted the support of some of the nation’s most prominent newspaper commentators.
Peter Hitchens said: “The law believes that such people have no right to follow their own morals, except in private.
“The law also now states that homosexual partnerships are equal to heterosexual marriage, which New Labour tried to pretend was not the case.”
Mr Hitchens also questioned the use of taxpayers’ money to fund the case against the Bulls, saying: “Britain’s embryonic Thought Police, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, provided the money on your behalf and mine, whether we like it or not.”
Melanie Phillips warned that “the obsession with equality has now reached ludicrous, as well as oppressive, proportions”.
And Amanda Platell, reflecting on the devastating legacy the trial has inflicted on the Bulls, said: “I know who I consider to be the real victims in this sorry farce.”
Since the judge announced his decision last week Hazelmary Bull has been subjected to abusive phone calls, but she is unable to ignore the phone because her 71-year-old husband has been in hospital recovering from heart surgery.
And homosexual couples have also been besieging the B&B with demands for double rooms in what appears to be an attempt to force the Christian couple out of business.
Earlier this week it was revealed that Mr and Mrs Bull are set to appeal the ruling against them.
A date has not yet been set for a hearing but the Court of Appeal is expected to examine the case later this year. The Christian Institute has agreed to fund the appeal.