Thursday, January 27, 2011
Michael Black, 63, and John Morgan, 58, have begun legal proceedings against the Swiss B&B in Berkshire, after owners Susanne and Mike Wilkinson denied them a double room last March.
The story sparked a national debate about gay and religious rights and Tory MP Chris Grayling missed out on the job of Home Secretary after he was secretly recorded saying that B&B owners should be allowed to bar gays.
Last week, Martin Hall and Steven Preddy won a total of £3,600 in damages when they successfully sued Christians Peter and Hazelmary Bull for denying them a double room at the Chymorvah Private Hotel near Penzance.
The Christian couple acted unlawfully, a judge found. They plan to appeal the ruling.
Mr Black and Mr Morgan, who have been together for seven years, said they wanted to make sure the law was enforced.
“I think the two cases are important as it shows that discrimination is not acceptable anymore, that is a significant change in public opinion from 30 or 40 years ago,” Mr Black told the Daily Telegraph.
He added: “The legal situation is that breaking the sexual discrimination act is not a criminal offence so there would be no consequences for the B&B owner unless we took legal action.
“We want to enforce the rule and make sure people can’t break the sexual discrimination act and get away with it.
“We’re not trying to stop anyone from observing their beliefs but to make it clear that their beliefs should not conflict with the discrimination laws in this country.”
They are being supported by civil rights group Liberty and proceedings have begun at Lambeth county court.
Mr Morgan and Mr Black had already booked a room and paid a deposit when they arrived at the B&B last March but Mrs Wilkinson turned them away when she realised they were two men.
She said that allowing them to stay would violate her religious beliefs.
The gay couple called the police over her refusal and were told they could make a civil claim against the Wilkinsons.
The Equality Act 2006 makes it illegal to refuse people goods and services on the grounds of sexual orientation.