The owners of a Cornish guesthouse who hit the headlines when they refused a double room to a gay couple have a launched an appeal in the Supreme Court.
Peter and Hazelmary Bull argue that their action did not constitute unlawful sex discrimination and insist they were merely honouring their religious beliefs.
The couple, who run a hotel in Marazion, close to the tip of Cornwall, turned away civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy in September 2008. The couple ,from Bristol, had booked a double room the previous day but when they arrived they were told they could not take the room because doubles were only available to married couples.
The highly religious couple were subsequently taken to Bristol County Court and ordered to pay £3,600 in damages, the BBC reports. They then took their case to the Court of Appeal but the case was dismissed.
Representing the couple in their Supreme Court case, Aiden O’Neill QC claimed people with traditional religious beliefs were now marginalised by society and, in any clash between beliefs and rights, the law should respect plurality.
The Bulls had made a “religiously-informed judgment of conscience”, he told the court.
“They believe the Bible to be God’s word, which reveals God’s perfect standards. They take this responsibility very seriously and always strive to keep their consciences clear before God.”
If the law forced them to provide double rooms to who were an opposite sex married couple, they would be forced to close their hotel in order to stay faithful to their religious beliefs, he said.
The refusal had been discrimination, said Robin Allen QC for Mr Preddy and Mr Hall. The civil partners had “received less favourable treatment, compared to an opposite-sex couple who are married”.