A judge has today ordered a Christian owned B&B to pay £3,600 in damages for the hurt feelings of a gay couple who were not allowed a double room.
Listen to Mike Judge debate the case
B&B owner Susanne Wilkinson says she was trying to uphold her beliefs about marriage in her family-run B&B, near Cookham in Berkshire.
But she was sued by gay couple, Michael Black and John Morgan, after they were told they couldn’t have a double bed in March 2010.
A judge today ruled that Mrs Wilkinson broke equality laws and ordered her to pay Mr Black and Mr Morgan £1,800 each.
Mrs Wilkinson has been granted permission to appeal against the ruling, and she is giving it “serious consideration”.
Reacting to today’s ruling Mrs Wilkinson said: “Naturally, my husband and I are disappointed to have lost the case and to have been ordered to pay £3,600 in damages for injury to feelings. We have the option to appeal, and we will give that serious consideration.
“We believe a person should be free to act upon their sincere beliefs about marriage under their own roof without living in fear of the law.
“Equality laws have gone too far when they start to intrude into a family home.
“People’s beliefs about marriage are coming under increasing attack, and I am concerned about people’s freedom to speak and act upon these beliefs.
“I am a Christian, not just on a Sunday in church, but in every area of my life – as Jesus expects from his followers.
“That’s all I was trying to do and I think it’s quite wrong to punish me for that, especially after enduring over two years of vile abuse and threats.
“We find this a strange justice in a society that aspires to be increasingly tolerant.”
Mrs Wilkinson’s legal defence was paid for by The Christian Institute, a national charity that protects the civil liberty of Christians.
Spokesman Mike Judge said: “Yes, Mrs Wilkinson’s B&B is a business, but it’s also a family home. The law should be more flexible in allowing people to live according to their own values under their own roof.
“A bit more balance is needed, rather than allowing one set of rights to automatically suppress another.”