The lawyer representing the Devonshire private hotel-owners who refused a gay couple a shared room has argued that the couple were entitled to manifest “outdated beliefs”.

In January, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who own the Chymorvah Private Hotel near Penzance, were found to have acted unlawfully when denying civil partners Martin Hall and Steven Preddy a room.

The hoteliers were ordered to pay the gay couple £1,800 each in compensation, but were given leave to appeal the ruling.

James Dingemans QC, for the Bulls, told the three appeal judges this week that the hoteliers’ policy was designed to obviate the sexual practices they objected to, not to discriminate against guests on the grounds of sexual orientation.

He said the Bulls’s policy was not directly discriminatory, and that they were not trying to undermine the rights of Mr Hall and Mr Preddy.

He said their “religious beliefs might be considered outdated, or uneconomic for those operating a private hotel, or both, but it is respectfully submitted that, in the particular circumstances of the case, [they] are entitled to manifest them.”

Mr Hall and Mr Preddy are represented by Robin Allen QC, who said the Bulls were “missing the point”.

He argued that the men’s civil partnership entitled them to be treated like a heterosexual married couple.