Christian hoteliers who discriminated against a gay couple by refusing them a room have said the law ‘has gone too far’ and they may challenge it at the Supreme Court or the European Court of Human Rights.
Hazelmary Bull, who owns with Chymorvah Hotel with her husband Peter, told the BBC: “I feel that the law has gone too far. Certainly Pete and I are ready to see if we can achieve some sort of result whereby two lifestyles can live alongside each other.
“We need to apply for leave to appeal, because that wasn’t given at the last court hearing. If we get it we could take it to the Supreme Court. If we don’t get leave to appeal then I understand we would possibly take it to Brussels.”
So far Bristol County Court and the Court of Appeal in London have ruled against the Bulls.
The Christian Institute confirmed they may back the case to the European Court of Human Rights, actually located in Strasbourg, France.
They were sued by two civil partners, Martin Hall and Steven Preddy, who were not allowed to share a room in the Chymorvah Private Hotel because they were unmarried.
The Bulls defended the policy saying they would not allow straight couples to share a room if they were not husband and wife.
No court has yet accepted the Bulls’ claim that they were not illegally discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation.
The Christian Institute had funded the Bulls’ defence. Its director, Colin Hart, is one of the religious figures behind the Coalition for Marriage, which argues against equal rights because in part because “civil partnerships already provide all the legal benefits of marriage”.
A Christian Institute spokesperson confirmed it was “a leading case, and it may even go to the European Court of Human Rights if we are not successful at the Supreme Court”.
In February, Lady Justice Rafferty said in her view the Bulls do not “face any difficulty in manifesting their religious beliefs”.
She said: “They are merely prohibited from so doing in the commercial context they have chosen.”
Andy Wasley, from Stonewall, said today: “As the Court of Appeal made absolutely clear, business owners can’t refuse service to people just because they happen to be gay.
“In the run-up to Easter, it does seem odd that the Bulls would rather pursue a happy couple through the courts than devote their considerable energy and free time to real issues like world hunger, homelessness and poverty.”