B&B owner who turned away gay couple loses appeal

Michael Black (l) and John Morgan The couple drove back home after being refused a room in the B&B

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A bed and breakfast owner has lost her appeal against a ruling that she unlawfully discriminated against a gay couple.

Susanne Wilkinson was sued by Michael Black and John Morgan from Cambridgeshire after she refused to let them share a double bed.

The Court of Appeal dismissed a challenge to the ruling, but gave Mrs Wilkinson, from Berkshire, permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

It is due to be heard on 9 October.

The case will be heard at the same time as that of Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who refused to let Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy share a bedroom at their seaside guesthouse in Cornwall.

Religious beliefs

Mr Black, 64, and Mr Morgan, 59, from Brampton near Huntingdon, had booked and paid a deposit for a double room at the Swiss Bed and Breakfast in Cookham.

When they arrived, Mrs Wilkinson made it clear she was not prepared to allow them to share a double bed, and that she would not accommodate them.

Ms Wilkinson, a Christian, said her religious beliefs dictated her decision.

Lawyers for Mrs Wilkinson argued that a person offering bed and breakfast in their own home was entitled to refuse to allow people who were not married or in a civil partnership to share a double bed.

The couple are not in a civil partnership. In these circumstances, there was no direct or indirect discrimination, Mrs Wilkinson's lawyers said.

Mr Black and Mr Morgan's case was taken up by lawyers from the human rights organisation Liberty.

They argued it was unlawful for a person concerned with the provision of services to the public to discriminate against a person on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

Mrs Wilkinson was ordered to pay more than £3,500 in damages last year after a court in Reading decided the couple had suffered unlawful discrimination.

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