As I had a few moments to spare from my intense studying, I felt I really had to blog about a recent court case in the UK.
For those of you who aren’t based in the UK, B&B stands for Bed and Breakfast. You often pay for a room in someone’s house and they give you breakfast as part of the deal. It is always a business with rooms separate from the owner’s part of the house and should not be confused with lodgers and other such arrangements. Basically a guest-house/small hotel set-up.
Recently, the UK has seen two major court cases where male gay couples have tried to book a double room, only to be turned away. One involved a couple from Bristol who had booked a room at a place in Cornwall, only to be turned away when the owners, a Mr and Mrs Bull, realised that they weren’t married. Apparently they have a policy about allowing non-married couples to stay in a double room due to their belief that any sex outside of marriage was sinful. The couple are actually civil partners, but y’know. They’re gay so it doesn’t count as marriage in this context, apparently.
First off, as a married woman I am appalled that couples (gay/straight/asexual etc.) would be turned away due to their marital status! That in itself is discrimination in my mind. The court case hinged on the fact that the couple were gay and the judge who rejected the Bull’s appeal request stated that a homosexual couple “cannot comply with the restriction because each party is of the same sex and therefore cannot marry”. Fair enough, but if the UK law does change and marriage is open to all, I still strongly believe that the B&B owners would be in the wrong as a business.
The more recent case that has just been decided involved a male gay couple from Cambridgeshire who tried to book a room at a B&B in Berkshire. In the original story the owner of the B&B stated that it was against her policy to allow same-sex couples to share a room and that:
They gave me no prior warning and I couldn’t offer them another room as I was fully booked.
I don’t see why I should change my mind and my beliefs I’ve held for years just because the government should force it on me.
I am not a hotel, I am a guest house and this is a private house
Why should they have given you prior warning? These were law-abiding citizens who just wanted a bed for the night. I mean really. How dare they be so inconsiderate to your feelings. You poor delicate thing. The court ruled in favour of the couple. No surprise there. But the owner couldn’t resist getting another dig in:
We believe a person should be free to act upon their sincere beliefs about marriage under their own roof without living in fear of the law. Equality laws have gone too far when they start to intrude into a family home
You know what? I’m going to spell this out very clearly because every time some bigot of a B&B owner pedals this rubbish, my blood boils. YOU ARE NOT A FAMILY HOME! You are a business. As a business, you are bound by UK law to provide an equal service to all.
Imagine if she had said this about a black couple, or a mixed race couple. People wouldn’t stand for it. “Oh no, I can’t have a darkie in my B&B! What would the neighbours think?” or “I don’t think a white man should be with a black woman so they can’t stay here. That’s my sincere belief”. Piss off. Excuse my language but these fictitious (or not so much for people back in the 50s and 60s and today) quotes wouldn’t fly in a court of law, so why should homophobic ones, even if they are based on religion?
When you open a business, you must accept that you will have people use your facilities who may test your worldview on things. Tough. If you don’t want that experience, don’t be a business. Simple. Don’t go whinging to the Christian Institute (who will back any pathetic case about religious discrimination and always lose) for some publicity and assistance. The CI are very good at making these stories appear everywhere in the British press. Some woman wouldn’t take her cross off even though it was company policy to not wear jewelery. Some guy refused to counsel a gay couple as part of his job requirements. Some other woman refused to marry a gay couple, even though she was a state appointed registrar. Who are these people? Why do they think that the law doesn’t apply to them?
If I carried on like this as an atheist, I wouldn’t last two seconds in a job. If I moaned that my employer has loads of religious Christmas offerings, or huffed about the fact that most departments in my place of work have a Bible in their offices for certain swearing of oaths, or griped about other such things, I’d be out. If I was Christian and complained about all the LGBT campaigns that the equality department advertise, I apparently would be listened to by the Christian Institute. It is just unfair and laughable how skewed the world is towards the religious. Of course, they end up losing their cases in court but not before they’ve been interviewed and featured on every news channel possible. It is quite sickening.
There. I’ve had my moan. Next time you hear someone in the UK carrying on about their faith and their right to have their religion, if they’re running a business, you call them out on it. It is illegal.