A gay couple were turned away from a bed and breakfast by its Christian owner who claimed it was against her convictions for two men to share a bed.
Michael Black and John Morgan booked a double room at the B&B in Cookham, Berkshire.
When they arrived, Susanne Wilkinson and her husband Francis refused to allow them to stay. The owner said later that she had turned them away because it was against her policy to accommodate same sex couples.
Black and Morgan claimed they were treated like lepers as a result of their sexuality. They reported the matter to Thames Valley police and have given a statement to police. Under the Equality Act 2006 it is illegal to discriminate against people
on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Black said: We're two respectable middle-aged men. John is leader of the Lib Dem group on Huntingdon town council. This was the first time either of us had experienced homophobia at first hand, despite being aged 56 and 62. We were shocked and
embarrassed. Mrs Wilkinson saw us both before we got out of the car and immediately acted in an unwelcoming, cold way, but my boyfriend and I were polite and friendly. She apologised for turning them away and she returned their deposit and
was in no way abusive, the couple said.
Mrs Wilkinson said: I don't see why I should change my mind and my beliefs I've held for years just because the government should force it on me. The property is not a hotel. It operates as a guest house and private home.
Mr Wilkinson said: We are Christians and we believe our rights don't have to be subordinated. We have religious freedom and we are not judging that but we are not prepared to have that sort of activity under our roof.
The Christian B&B owners who wouldn't give a double bed to a homosexual couple have been deluged with hate mail, including a threat to burn down their home.
Mike and Susanne Wilkinson have been subjected to abusive phone calls, text messages and emails since the story emerged in the media.
And police officers arrived at the couple's home last night to look into the abuse.
Mr Wilkinson described the abuse, saying: There must have been 900 emails, and I would say half of them are really abusive and threatening . I'm really saddened that so many people have articulated themselves in such a foul way.
The Christian Institute's Mike Judge said: Whether you agree with the Wilkinsons' beliefs or not, a diverse society is one that respects diversity of opinion. Surely the world is big enough to let people disagree. Suing someone because you
don't like their beliefs is illiberal, undemocratic and has no place in a free society.
A gay couple who were turned away by a Christian bed and breakfast owner because it was against her convictions to let them share a double bed are suing her for damages.
Michael Black and John Morgan have brought in human rights organisation Liberty to help take legal action against Susanne Wilkinson.
The start of legal proceedings comes two months after Black and Morgan reported Mrs Wilkinson to police for refusing them a room. They said she was breaching discrimination laws and that they were horrified by the former air hostess's outdated
and abhorrent views .
But Mrs Wilkinson and her husband Francis, a former city worker, insisted they were simply living according to their values and Christian beliefs. Mrs Wilkinson said she would have offered the couple two single rooms, but the guest house was
fully booked. Susanne and Francis Wilkinson
Last night her husband said: Ours is a faith position and hasn't changed. This response seems completely disproportionate-We feel the law is wrong and needs to be amended.
But James Welch, legal director of Liberty, said: Liberty defends the rights of religious groups to preach their beliefs, even when we disagree with them, but not to discriminate in the provision of goods and services.
The Wilkinsons have been helped by the Christian Institute pressure group. Spokesman Simon Calvert said: This comes down to the rights of a gay couple to have a holiday where they choose against the right of a Christian couple to act in
accordance with their conscience.
Michael Black and John Morgan are seeking damages of £ 1,800 each for sexual orientation discrimination after Susanne Wilkinson refused to give them a double room.
The couple said they were shocked when they were not allowed to stay the night at the Swiss B&B in Cookham, Berkshire, in March 2010.
A court heard that the men booked a room online but when they arrived Mrs Wilkinson told them it was against her religious beliefs for them to share a bed, adding: This is my private home.
Black and Morgan said they were refunded their £ 30 deposit and asked to leave.
James Dingemans QC, defending, said it was against Mrs Wilkinson's religious beliefs for two unmarried people to share a bed under her roof, adding: This is protected by the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998.'
A bed and breakfast owner has lost her appeal against a ruling that she unlawfully discriminated against a gay couple when she refused to let them stay in a double room. Committed Christian Susanne Wilkinson declined to let Michael Black and
partner John Morgan have the room at the Swiss Bed and Breakfast in Cookham, Berkshire, in March 2010.
Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson, Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice McCombe, in the Court of Appeal in London, dismissed Mrs Wilkinson's challenge, but gave her permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The appeal, on October 9, will be heard at the same time as that of Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who refused to let Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy share a bedroom at their seaside guesthouse in Cornwall.
Lord Dyson concluded that the decision in the Preddy case, where the court decided there was direct discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation, compelled the conclusion that, by her policy of only offering double rooms to married couples,
Mrs Wilkinson directly discriminated against homosexual couples on the ground of their sexual orientation.
She also indirectly discriminated against homosexual couples on the grounds of their sexual orientation by applying a policy which put them at a disadvantage as compared with heterosexual couples and she could not reasonably justify by reference
to matters other than their sexual orientation.
Court finds that christian hoteliers were discriminatory in refusing room to gay couple
Presumably this issue is being debated at the highest echelons of western churches. Their views on homosexuality are becoming simply unacceptable to much of modern society. Should they modify their 'god given' rules, or should they continue to
alienate large swathes of supporters, or even potential members? In a time when public sympathies for the church are rapidly declining, then surely they will have to opt to change their ways a little.
Two Christian hotel owners have been ordered to pay damages for refusing a bed to a gay couple .
Peter and Hazelmary Bull whinged that Christianity had been pushed to the margins of society, and added: Some people are more equal than others.
They spoke out after a landmark court decision awarded £1,800 each to civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, who were denied a double room under the Bulls' policy of allowing only married couples to share a bed in the hotel that is also
their home. Victory:
Judge Andrew Rutherford said that in the past 50 years social attitudes had changed. He concluded that the Bulls discriminate on the basis of marital status : There is no material difference between marriage and a civil partnership. If
that is right, then upon what basis do the defendants draw a distinction if it is not on sexual orientation? The only conclusion which can be drawn is that the refusal to allow [the claimants] to occupy the double room which they had booked was
because of their sexual orientation and that this is direct discrimination.
His likening of civil partnership to marriage may lead to a long legal battle if the Bulls appeal.
There was a suggestion during the trial that the hoteliers had been set up as part of a campaign against discrimination. But the judge said he could see no evidence of such a sting operation and added that damages would have been greatly reduced
if that was so. He said: There was a suggestion in the course of the case, and indeed in some newspaper reports prior to the case, that the defendants were "set up" by the claimants with the assistance of an organisation such as
Stonewall. If this were true then, while it would not of itself defeat a discrimination claim, it would very materially affect the issue of damages.