Christian B&B case: What the papers say

ANDREW BROWN (Guardian blogger): “The important point about Peter and Hazelmary Bull, the couple who owned the Cornish hotel in question, was that they really believed that their policy did not discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation.

“Their line was that no unmarried couples, whether straight or gay, could share a double-bedded room, and evidence was presented to show that they had previously been in trouble with heterosexual couples who had been turned away for this reason, as far back as 1996.”

“…So it really does appear that the Bulls were attempting to run a policy that did not discriminate against gay unmarried couples any more than it did against straight ones.

“The judge is quite clear that this is a clash of genuine rights and sincere principles on both sides. His job is to balance them, or rather to discover how the law balances the two rights – to the free exercise of religious belief; and to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

“The crucial factor turned out to be the fact that the gay couple, Martin Hall [sic] and Steven Preddy, had entered into a civil partnership.

“The law says that civil partners are to be treated as married ones and in that sense the Bulls’ policy was direct discrimination, since there was no possibility of marriage, still less Christian marriage for any gay couple. That is why they won their case.”

DAILY MAIL (Editorial): “As the judge accepted, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, aged 70 and 66, are decent and benevolent people.

“They have no dislike of homosexuals, whom they often welcome to their small Cornish hotel, treating them exactly as they do unmarried heterosexuals.

“Indeed, they had only one motive in refusing a double room to civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy.

“In the words of Judge Andrew Rutherford, this was their ‘perfectly orthodox Christian belief’ that sex outside marriage, straight or gay, is wrong.

“It is because they live by that belief, held through the centuries in what is still called a Christian country, that today the Bulls face ruin.

“They’ve been found to have acted unlawfully under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 and ordered to pay £3,600 in damages.”

“…Is there no place for a good-natured couple, approaching old age, to live by the orthodox beliefs of the religion to which Britain owes its identity?

“Ultimately, the fault lies with the last parliament, which delighted in trampling on traditional values.

“But was it really necessary for the Equality Commission to throw the full weight of the state — and taxpayers’ hard-earned money — into victimising a couple who meant nothing but well?”

DAILY TELEGRAPH (Editorial): “The right to hold religious beliefs, and to act in keeping with one’s faith, is being set against the right not to be offended – and is losing.

“This is a dispiriting trend in a free society. The views of the Bulls will seem to many to be old-fashioned, even distasteful – but they have every right to hold them.

“A pervasive climate of political correctness, however, is driving such beliefs to the margins; the law is out of kilter.

“It no longer protects the freedom of the believer in the way that it defends the interests of those who consider themselves discriminated against.

“As we have argued before, this is an unhealthy imbalance that needs to be redressed – if not by the courts, then by Parliament.”

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