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Hotel victory for gay couple as they each receive £1,800 compensation

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: January 19, 2011

Steven Preddy and Martin Hall outside Bristol County Court

Steven Preddy and Martin Hall outside Bristol County Court

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The devout Christian owners of a Westcountry hotel who refused a gay couple a double room have been ordered to pay them compensation after a judge ruled that they acted unlawfully.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who run the Chymorvah Private Hotel in Marazion near Penzance, have been forced to pay Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy £1,800 each, in damages, and their legal costs.

The ruling has been hailed as a victory for campaigners against discrimination while many Christians fear the result is yet another example of how they are becoming increasingly marginalised for standing up for their beliefs.

Mr and Mrs Bull, who fear they are now facing financial ruin as a result of the court's decision, said they would consider appealing against the ruling, which means the case could be heard at the High Court and in Europe.

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Mrs Bull said: "We are obviously disappointed with the result. Our double-bed policy was based on our sincere beliefs about marriage, not hostility to anybody.

"It was applied equally and consistently to unmarried heterosexual couples and homosexual couples, as the judge accepted.

"We are trying to live and work in accordance with our Christian faith. As a result we have been sued and ordered to pay £3,600.

"But many Christians have given us gifts, so thanks to them we will be able to pay the damages."

Mrs Bull added: "I do feel that Christianity is being marginalised in Britain. The same laws used against us have been used to shut down faith-based adoption agencies.

"Much is said about 'equality and diversity' but it seems some people are more equal than others."

Mr Bull was unable to attend court yesterday as he is due to undergo surgery for a triple heart bypass.

Mr Hall and Mr Preddy last night welcomed the ruling.

The gay couple said the decision showed no-one was above the law.

They had taken Peter and Hazelmary Bull to court after they were turned away from the couple's hotel in September 2008 having booked the double room.

In a ruling at Bristol County Court, Judge Andrew Rutherford said the Bulls had acted unlawfully and ordered them to pay damages and legal costs.

Mr Hall, 46, and Mr Preddy, 38, from Bristol, made the claim for sexual orientation discrimination under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007.

They said: "We're really pleased that the judge has confirmed what we already know – that in these circumstances our civil partnership has the same status in law as a marriage between a man and a woman, and that, regardless of each person's religious beliefs, no-one is above the law."

The Bulls, who were backed by the Christian Institute, denied the gay couple's claim, saying they have a long-standing policy of banning all unmarried couples both heterosexual and gay from sharing a bed at the hotel.

Mr Bull, 70, and his wife, 66, said their policy, operated since they bought the hotel in 1986, is based on their beliefs about marriage and not hostility to sexual orientation.

The court ruling could mean that the Bulls are forced to close their business if they refuse to change their policy.

In his ruling, Judge Rutherford said in the last 50 years social attitudes in Britain had changed.

"We live today in a parliamentary democracy. Our laws are made by the Queen in Parliament," he said.

"It is inevitable that such laws will from time to time cut across deeply held beliefs of individuals and sections of society for they reflect the social attitudes and morals prevailing at the time that they are made.

"I am quite satisfied as to the genuineness of the defendants' beliefs and it is, I have no doubt, one which others also hold.

"It is a very clear example of how social attitudes have changed over the years for it is not so very long ago that these beliefs of the defendants would have been those accepted as normal by society at large. Now it is the other way around."

The judge accepted the Bulls did hold "perfectly orthodox Christian beliefs".

"I have found this a very difficult case, not least because the application of these regulations is an area of the law with which I have not previously had to grapple," he said. "And it is clearly, in my view, the case that each side hold perfectly honourable and respectable, albeit wholly contrary, views."

However, he said that under the Bulls' rules, two friends of the same sex who are backpacking around Cornwall could not have a double room at their hotel.

"It seems to me that a correct analysis of the position of the defendants is that they discriminate on the basis of marital status.

"I have reached the clear conclusion that on a proper analysis of the defendants' position on the facts of this particular case the only conclusion which can be drawn is that the refusal to allow them to occupy the double room which they had booked was because of their sexual orientation and that prima facie they fall within the provisions of Regulation 3(1) and that this is direct discrimination."

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  • cornishangel  |  April 19 2012, 12:06PM

    What about Peter and Hazelmary Bull rights, this is so out of order.These were decent, law abidding people and at their age they have now lost everything and on top of this their not well. The stress this has put on them.Not right at all.:((

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    David, Plymouth  |  January 24 2011, 5:50PM

    @ Sarah don't give up your day time job , you just don't cut it as a poet , and now you know it :) have a nice day Sarah xxx love you xxx

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    Steve, St Austell  |  January 24 2011, 10:40AM

    @ Gay Pride. I see you had my previous comment deleted from here. Did it offend you? Obviously it did. This goes to prove you are entitiled to your opinion but we, that support the Bull's aren't. Point proved that the minority wins again and you laugh in the face of decent people. Enough said... :-/

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    Sarah, Cornwall  |  January 24 2011, 8:47AM

    Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven, And oh did stonewall led the gay community down the primrose path Wit much glee they hailed a victory which sees them further alienated from society Increasing enemies but do they care they have 3k snatched from a old couples retirement fund Oh what heroes they are @ stonewall So much so. they lurk in every shadow Unable to brag about How they ruined a couple's life

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    Gay Pride, Little Queen Street  |  January 23 2011, 8:51PM

    @Brain Your name is quite fitting as it's obviously something you are lacking! Look at the state of them - just because they look like gay incestuous brothers does not mean they should be denied access to a hotel. Brain, if you were in charge of a hotel Im sure it would not be a case of the gay barons offending the guests but your lack of any intelligence whatsoever!!!

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    David, Plymouth  |  January 23 2011, 6:46PM

    I found this article in the Guardian which for me puts things in perspective rather well , http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/23/gay-couple-hotel-battle

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    max power, st austell  |  January 23 2011, 12:24PM

    Gay Pride I think that you've overblown that stereotype! I hope you're not descriminating against us St Austell folk as we have enough problems as it is... Discrimination exists in every sphere of life, but the average Brit has an innate sense of fair play, the pity is that fascists exist on both sides of all disputes blinded by their own bigotry or ignorance. Ignoring the Gay theme of this link (it could be diversity, climate change etc)and considering the dumbing down of education, should our schools be tools of social engineering indoctrinating our children in cultural marxism at the expense of core subjects? I think that issues such as diversity and Gay rights are not altruistic aims on behalf of politicians but used as political tools and a big clue is that the Cons do not differ from Lib or Lab. Conspiracy theory? Conspiracy fact is that what was sold as a 'common market' now dictates our lives. Perhaps you think the surrendering of our individuality and freedoms a price worth paying for a brave new world. And can't 4 year olds just be kids? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8275937/Gay-lessons-in-maths-geography-and-science.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Marxism

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    Pearl, Perranporth  |  January 23 2011, 12:09PM

    @Brain St Just I know what you mean , you would have thought she would have done something with her hair before facing the cameras like that .

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    Brain, St Just  |  January 23 2011, 11:58AM

    If I ran a hotel, I would not have let them in, they would offend all the other guests, look at the state of them

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    Kim Harris, Penzance  |  January 22 2011, 9:36PM

    http://www.secularism.org.uk/court-rules-against-homophobic-d.html [QUOTE]Mr & Mrs Bull¿s argument that they denied double rooms to all unmarried people, not just homosexuals, has been shown to be false by one of the National Secular Society¿s Council members, Dr Ray Newton He stayed at this hotel in a double room with an unmarried partner ¿ they registered under different names ¿ but they were not challenged."[/QUOTE] More here: http://www.secularism.org.uk/christian-hotel-owners-caught-ou.html

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