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QC says Christians' rights should not be trumped

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A court has heard how a Christian couple should be recognised as having the same human rights as the two men to whom they were ordered to pay compensation to earlier this year.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull, owners of the Chymorvah B&B in Cornwall, were ordered to pay £3,600 in compensation to Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy after they were turned down for a double room in the Bull’s B&B. The Bulls operated a policy, based on their Christian beliefs, whereby they only granted shared rooms to married couples.

Mr and Mrs Bull have appealed against the original decision and their case has been heard in the Court of Appeal this week.

The couple’s lawyer, James Dingemans QC, explained in court how there was an asymmetry in the way in which the two couples’ rights were handled.

He said: "If Human Rights are to have any future at all they must respect all rights.

"The Bulls have an absolute right to believe that extra-marital sexual behaviour is wrong and a qualified right to manifest that belief."

"They have literally prevented hundreds of unmarried couples from sharing double beds at their hotel.

"Their religious beliefs might be considered outdated and uneconomic but they are entitled to manifest those beliefs in their private hotel."

He highlighted that it was "no part of their case to undermine the rights or respect due to Mr Hall and Mr Preddy".

Mr Dingemans went on to say: "But they respectfully submit that the judge erred in failing to balance respective rights in this particular case."

The hearing concluded yesterday and a ruling is expected in a few weeks time.

Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, commented:

“I am glad that Mr and Mrs Bull have appealed the court’s original decision. Equality legislation has, in many cases, been interpreted in such a way so as to favour sexual orientation rights above freedom of belief for Christians.

“It is time for the balance to be redressed. If not, then Christians will increasingly be forced to hide their faith in the public sphere for fear of discrimination and punishment. With full homosexual marriage now on the horizon, protecting conscience will become more important than ever.”


Evening Standard


Christian Concern: Sexual Orientation