A gay couple were not allowed to celebrate their civil partnership ceremony after a hotel refused to accept large celebrations.

The four star, New World Hotel , told Richard Minns and Paul Rice that same sex celebrations could not have more than eight people at the reception.

The policy was enforced after there had been problems at a previous ceremony where two gay men were caught “cavorting” in a nearby churchyard.

Mr Minns told the Essex Chronicle, “To say that I am shocked and dismayed at this blatant discriminatory approach would be an understatement, I am insulted and very angry. This is the 21st Century after all.”

“We wanted to hold our reception and civil partnership ceremony in Brentwood because Paul was born and brought up there and I grew up in Billericay.”

“We’re really disappointed we cannot now hold the event in the borough.”

The hotel owner insisted he is not homophobic as he has lots of gay friends and has employed gay staff in the past. He said, “At one time the hotel used to accept these functions, It changed its policy some time ago after two men from a gay dance club held at the hotel were caught cavorting in the local churchyard.”

“They antagonised Great Warley residents, who are mainly older people and many of whom are church-goers.”

A spokesperson for the hotel pointed out that stag do’s and hen parties were also banned because previous problems.

The couple have been invited to discuss the matter further.

The incoming Equality Bill would make it against the law for service providers such as hotels, to refuse products and access to people because of their sexual orientation.