January 24, 2011

Christian hoteliers face bankruptcy over their beliefs

by Jan Harris

The decision to run their Penzance guest house according to the teachings of their Christian faith has led Peter and Hazelmary Bull to the brink of bankruptcy.

Civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy were refused a double room by the Bulls because, as devout Christians, they believed these should only be available to heterosexual married couples.

Mr Hall and Mr Preddy won their subsequent claim for sexual orientation discrimination under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007.

Mr and Mrs Bull, who must now each pay £1,800 in damages to the couple, as well as legal cost, say they are facing financial ruin as a result of the ruling.

The hotel has been closed since Christmas and if they re-open it, they will have to operate it in a way that goes against their sincerely held religious beliefs or risk further prosecution.

The couple say they are unable to pay their £2,800-a-month mortgage and risk losing the hotel, which is also their home.

Since the case Mrs Bull has reported receiving numerous calls from gay couples wishing to book rooms, as well as abusive phone calls.

Although Mr Hall and Mr Preddy were justified in standing up for their rights as civil partners, the impact the case has had on the Bulls is surely just another form of discrimination.

Mr Hall and Mr Steven Preddy said the decision showed no-one was above the law.

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