The case of Christian B&B owners who could be sued for refusing a gay couple a double bed shows Britain puts ‘gay rights’ above religious liberty, a columnist said on BBC’s Question Time last night.
Watch a clip from the BBC’s Question Time
The Christian husband and wife at the centre of the controversy told same-sex couple Michael Black and John Morgan last month that they could not share a bed in the Berkshire B&B.
Janet Daley, a columnist for The Daily Telegraph, said the issue was not one of homophobia but human rights.
She commented that the couple had not said “gay people aren’t allowed in here”, but rather, “we don’t want certain kinds of sexual activity going on in our home”.
She added: “Our political culture apparently regards the right to sexual activity as more important than the right to religious conviction”.
However some of the other panelists disagreed, with former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell arguing that people with such views as the Christian owners’ should not run public B&Bs.
And the columnist’s comments were also criticised by the Government’s Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, who praised Labour’s record on gay rights.
The panel was debating remarks made by Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, who recently defended the right of the Christian B&B owners to act in accordance with their conscience.
Mike Judge debates theissue on Sky News
Mr Grayling said, in comments to a think-tank, that he took the view that “if it’s a question of somebody who’s doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn’t come into their own home”.
But Labour and the Lib Dems slammed his remarks, with one homosexual Labour MP saying the comments showed “that the Conservatives have not really changed on this and many other issues”.
The Wilkinsons, whose B&B is in Cookham, Berkshire, have been subject to abuse since they turned the same-sex couple away.
They have received unpleasant phone calls, text messages, and around 900 emails, with Mr Wilkinson saying two weeks ago that around half of the emails were “really abusive and threatening”.