Berkshire: Gay couple take B&B owner to court
A gay couple have sued the owner of a bed and breakfast after she refused to let them stay in a double room because of her religious views.
Michael Black, 64, and partner John Morgan, 59, are seeking damages from Susanne Wilkinson after she declined to let them have the room at the Swiss Bed and Breakfast in Cookham, Berkshire, in March 2010.
The Telegraph reports lawyers from Liberty, the human rights organisation, which has taken up the case, argued that it was unlawful for a person concerned with the provision of services to the public to discriminate against a person on the grounds of sexual orientation.
However, Mrs Wilkinson’s legal team say the couple are not in a civil partnership and so cannot claim it amounted to direct or indirect discrimination.
James Dingemans QC, for Wilkinson, told Reading County Court: “If Mrs Wilkinson had simply said, ‘don’t come in because you’re gay’, that could never be justified. It was simply the provision of the double bed which Mrs Wilkinson believed was wrong.”
Henrietta Hill, for the couple, said: “It is obvious that there is a difficult balancing act to be carried out in this case. The proper balance to be struck has already been determined by the very clear will of parliament.”
Mr Black and Mr Morgan have already agreed that £1,800 each in damages is the amount they are looking to receive.
It has been previously reported that they will give any money to charity.
The judge, Claire Moulder, reserved judgment after the one-day hearing, saying she expected to give her ruling in one to two weeks’ time.