“This is a victory for equality and a defeat for discrimination. Although people are entitled to their religious beliefs, no one should be above the law. People of faith should not be permitted to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against other people,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
He was commenting on today’s landmark court ruling by judge Andrew Rutherford that the Christian hoteliers, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, had acted unlawfully when they refused to allow gay civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy share a room at their hotel in Cornwall in 2008.
“Peter and Hazelmary were offering a service to the public by providing hotel accommodation. Everyone who provides services to the public should do so without discrimination. That’s the law. People of faith cannot legitimately claim exemption from equality laws that apply to everyone else.
“If the court had ruled that the Bull’s were allowed to ban gay couples from sleeping together in the same room, it would have opened the floodgates to a deluge of similar religious-motivated claims for exemption from the equality laws.
“We could have ended up with some Jewish supermarket workers demanding the right to not handle pork, Muslim restaurant staff refusing to serve alcohol and Christian solicitors declining to represent gay or cohabiting heterosexual couples.
“Businesses would grind to a halt, and social cohesion decline, as religious fundamentalists of all hues claimed the right to discriminate on faith grounds. Our equality laws would soon be in shreds. Discrimination would become rampant again. It would be hugely damaging to harmonious community relations,” said Mr Tatchell.