Christian couple forced to sell B&B after gay row

Thu 19 Sep 2013
By Administrator User

Peter and Hazelmary Bull said the decision to let go of Chymorvah Hotel in Cornwall, is like 'a death in the family'.

The Christian Bed Breakfast owners, who were sued after refusing a double room to a gay couple, are having to sell their livelihood because of a lack of business. Peter and Hazelmary Bull said the decision to let go of Chymorvah Hotel in Cornwall, is like 'a death in the family'. The couple, who only allow married couples to share a bed, were ordered to pay £3,600 in compensation to a homosexual couple two years ago.

Mr and Mrs Bull have operated their 'married only' policy since they bought the grade II listed building near Penzance in 1986.

But since losing the discrimination case they said they have lost 85 per cent of their business and have received death threats. They claim they have had the bolts removed from the wheels of their car, the staircase which leads to the beach has been demolished, their website corrupted with pornography and more recently found a dead rabbit nailed to their gate. The Chymorvah also lost its listing with tourism website Visit England because of its stance against the 2007 Equalities Act, which resulted in them not being able to advertise in relevant magazines which led to a dent in visitors.

Mrs Bull told Premier's Victoria Laurence during the News Hour that they have taken less money this year than they took when they took over in 1986:

Mr and Mrs Bull said their double room policy is applied consistently to all unmarried couples whether homosexual or heterosexual. But Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy brought a claim of sexual orientation discrimination against them after they were denied double bed accommodation in September 2008. Mr and Mrs Bull contested the claim, saying that their double bed policy applies to all unmarried couples regardless of sexual orientation. They said it is based on their beliefs about marriage, not hostility to any sexual orientation. But in 2011, Judge Andrew Rutherford declared it was unlawful for Mr and Mrs Bull to operate their policy and deny a double room to Mr Hall and Mr Preddy. The judge ruled that under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, introduced under the previous Government, civil partnerships must be treated in the same way as marriage. In February 2012, Mr and Mrs Bull lost their appeal against the ruling. Three judges upheld the County Court decision which found the policy to be discriminatory on grounds of sexual orientation.

The Christian Institute funded Mr and Mrs Bull's appeal and at the time spokesman Simon Calvert said:

"Peter and Hazelmary have been penalised for their beliefs about marriage.

"Not everyone will agree with Peter and Hazelmary's beliefs, but a lot of people will think it is shame that the law doesn’t let them live and work according to their own values under their own roof.

"Something has gone badly wrong with our equality laws when good, decent people like Peter and Hazelmary are penalised but extremist hate preachers are protected."

The Chymorvah is on the market for £750,000, although Mrs Bull said they may have to accept less than the asking price. They are not even sure they can sell it and have no idea what their future holds.

 The Christian couple are hoping to have their appeal against the discrimination ruling heard at the Supreme Court on October 9th and 10th.

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