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 They said she was breaching discrimination laws and that they were horrified by the former air hostess's outdated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.
Update: Day in Court
24th September 2012. See article
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 verdict is expected within two weeks.
Update: Still Unlawful Discrimination
10th July 2013. Based on article
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.
Her appeal was funded by the Christian Institute.