Gay couple sues B&B owner after being refused a room


Gay couple sues B&B owner after being refused a roomBBC

A gay couple have sued the owner of a bed and breakfast after she refused to let them stay in a room with a double bed.

Michael Black, 64, and John Morgan, 59, from Cambridgeshire, are seeking damages from Susanne Wilkinson, from Berkshire.

Ms Wilkinson, who runs the Swiss Bed and Breakfast in Cookham, said she turned them away because of her religious beliefs, and that it was her human right to do so.

Judgement on the case, being heard at Reading County Court, has been reserved for the next one to two weeks.

The couple had booked a room at the B&B back in March 2010, but, when they arrived, Ms Wilkinson refused to accommodate them.

Lawyers from the human rights organisation Liberty have taken up the case, and, according to the BBC, argue that "it was unlawful for a person concerned with the provision of services to the public to discriminate against a person on the grounds of their sexual orientation".

The men seek a declaration that they have been discriminated against, and are seeking damages of £1,800 each.

Mrs Wilkinson reportedly believes that providing a double bed for a couple would have been promoting a sin, sex outside marriage.

Defence lawyers for Mrs Wilkinson argue that a person who is offering bed and breakfast in their own home is entitled to refuse to allow people to stay if they are not married or in a civil partnership.

The lawyers added that as the couple are not in a civil partnership, there was no direct or indirect discrimination.

According to the Telegraph, James Dingemans QC, for Mrs Wilkinson, told the court: ''If Mrs Wilkinson had simply said, 'don't come in because you're gay', that could never be justified. It was simply the provision of the double bed which Mrs Wilkinson believed was wrong.''

Henrietta Hill, for the couple, said: ''It is obvious that there is a difficult balancing act to be carried out in this case. The proper balance to be struck has already been determined by the very clear will of Parliament.''

The case echoes that of Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall who sued B&B owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull after they refused them a double room at Chymorvah House in Marazio, Cornwall.

Related articles

Christian hotel owners win right to take 'gay ban' case to Supreme Court

Hotel owners lose appeal against payout over 'gay ban'

Sign up to our weekly newsletter | Follow us on Twitter | Become a fan on Facebook