A gay couple who sued the owner of a bed and breakfast in Berkshire after she refused to let them stay in a room with a double bed have been awarded damages, after a judge found they had suffered unlawful discrimination.
Michael Black and John Morgan won their case against Susanne Wilkinson, owner of the Swiss Bed and Breakfast in Cookham, who she declined to let them have the room on religious grounds.
Reading Crown Court has now ruled that Wilkinson breached equality legislation by unlawfully discriminating against the couple on the grounds of their sexual orientation.
Black and Morgan, who have been awarded £3,600 in compensation, said they were “delighted” with the decision.
The couple had booked a double room for March 2010, but when they arrived at the B&B Wilkinson made it clear to them that she was not prepared to allow them to share a double bed, and that she would not accommodate them.
Recorder Clare Moulder found the couple had been unlawfully discriminated against on the grounds of their sexual orientation, in breach of regulation 4 of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007.
She said: “In my view the application of the regulations to the defendant’s bed and breakfast establishment does not prevent her from holding her religious beliefs, but she has chosen to operate a commercial business for financial purposes.
“The business is conducted from her home but it is still a business with a significant number of guests. I do not agree with the (defence) submission that if the restriction is unlawful the defendant would have to remove herself from public life.
“My conclusion is that the application of the regulations to the defendant’s bed and breakfast establishment and the finding that the refusal of the double room constituted direct discrimination, are not in breach of her (Wilkinson’s) Article 9 rights.”
The court ruling prompted Nick Griffin, leader of the far-righ British National Party (BNP) to respond angrily on social networking site Twitter – a move that has been strongly criticised.
The Member of the European Parliament posted the home address of Black and Morgan adding that they would be visited by a “British Justice Team” which would give them “a bit of drama”.
Police in Cambridgeshire received a number of complaints about Griffin’s comments and have said they are investigating.
By Kerstin Kühn
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