The Equality Act, which gives gays and lesbians equal access to products and services, could cause big loss for Highland tourism, it has been claimed.

Hotel owners have voiced fears that religious views in the area could see places being shut down and tourists deliberately staying away.

David Morton, general manager of the Royal Hotel, Portree, told the Aberdeen Press and Journal, “People about here, with their religious views in particular, are very much against this bill. That’s the view of a lot of bed-and-breakfast establishments.”

“Probably 70% of the trade we get during the summer time in the restaurant comes from BB establishments in the area, so there’s a big percentage of the trade. If they all started to refuse and closed down because of the law, especially with VisitScotland’s stance on it, it could be detrimental to the trade, there is no doubt about it.”

Mr Morton, 60, a member of the Licensed Trade Association and vice-chairman of the Skye and Lochalsh Hospitality Association, echoed opposition to the law, “We should have a choice as to who we allow in the hotel, which we have of course, but with homosexuality or anything like that if we refuse these people then we could be charged for it, which is all wrong.”

Tourism agency VisitScotland stands by its promotion of Scotland in gay publications.

The Equality Act is expected to come into force in October.