UK High Court Hears Bed and Breakfast Case

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LONDON -- The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is hearing a case Wednesday that pits gays rights against religious rights.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull are Christians who own a bed and breakfast in Cornwall, England. British courts have fined them almost $6,000 because they would not rent a room to a homosexual couple.

Now they're fighting one last time for their religious rights.

Taking a Stand

Visitors at the Chymorvah House can get a home-cooked English breakfast and enjoy beautiful views of the coast. But if you're unmarried, Christian owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull insist you sleep in separate rooms.

That moral approach has led to a lawsuit by homosexual Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy. The men were told they couldn't stay in a room together because it violates hotel policy.

But Hall and Preddy argued the policy violates their rights under England's new controversial equality law, which outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is representing the couple and has acted on behalf of homosexuals in similar cases, said businesses and organizations providing goods and services cannot discriminate based on people's sexual preferences.

The Bulls told CBN News they would have offered single bed accommodation to a homosexual, but they stand by their policy of not allowing unmarried couples to sleep in a double room.

"Being Christian we believe it's a moral duty to our Lord to carry out His wishes and what He wants," Peter said. "We try to be fair in everything we do, but this item is our respect for married rights."

"We imagined that in a so-called Christian country that we would have the freedom to practice our beliefs the same as many other religions are protected," Hazelmary said. "To find that we are faced with this court action was a real surprise." Tom Ellis, the lawyer defending the Bulls, added that another Christian couple is facing similar consequences for taking a moral stand at their guesthouse.

"The case of Mrs. Wilkinson who owned a bed and breakfast and refused two men to share a double room," he said. "This case is not about homosexuality or sexual orientation, but about sexual practices outside of marriage."

Ellis said he's also helping the Bulls fight for their human rights.

"The Human Rights Act guarantees everyone the freedom of religion, and that right allows people to manifest that belief in accordance with their personal convictions," he explained. "Therefore, they have the right not to choose to endorse or to encourage matters they consider to be wrong according to biblical principles."

More may be at stake in this case than the rights of these bed and breakfast owners. This battle -- homosexual rights versus the traditional right to religious freedom -- is nothing new. But these court rulings may be precedent setting.

Now the question lingers -- will the United Kingdom allow Christians to freely practice their beliefs or will it force them to embrace state-imposed secularism?

Since they were sued, the Bulls have faced death threats. They've also endured vandalism, including having their website hacked and replaced with pornography. Now the couple has been forced to put their business up for sale.

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CBN News
Peter Wooding

Peter Wooding

CBN News United Kingdom Correspondent

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