A gay couple have welcomed a court ruling which said Christian hotel owners had acted unlawfully when they refused to let them stay in a double room.
Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy 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 Cornwall in September 2008 having booked a double room.
In a ruling at Bristol County Court, Judge Andrew Rutherford said the Bulls had acted unlawfully and ordered them to pay the couple £1,800 each in damages and their 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.”
Mr and Mrs Bull, who run the Chymorvah Private Hotel in Marazion near Penzance, Cornwall, were backed by the Christian Institute. They said they would consider appealing against the decision, which means the case could be heard at the High Court and in Europe.
“We are obviously disappointed with the result. Our double-bed policy was based on our sincere beliefs about marriage, not hostility to anybody,” Mrs Bull said. “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.”