UK Christian bed and breakfast owner fined for turning away homosexuals
LONDON, October 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A judge has ruled that the Christian owner of a bed and breakfast broke equality laws in refusing a bed to a homosexual couple and ordered her to pay £3,600 in damages.
Susanne Wilkinson, who owns the Swiss B&B in Cookham, Berkshire, has been ordered to pay compensation for “injury to feelings” to two men she turned away, because she rents rooms in her family-owned business only to married couples.
Last January, homosexual couple Michael Black, 63, and John Morgan, 58, sued Mrs. Wilkinson for discrimination after she informed the two men that “it is against my convictions for two men to share a bed.” She added, “This is my private home.” Mrs. Wilkinson returned their deposit and asked them, politely, to leave.
Responding to the ruling, Mrs. Wilkinson said, “Naturally, my husband and I are disappointed to have lost the case and to have been ordered to pay £3,600 in damages for hurt feelings. We have the option to appeal, and we will give that serious consideration.”
“We believe a person should be free to act upon their sincere beliefs about marriage under their own roof without living in fear of the law. Equality laws have gone too far when they start to intrude into a family home,” she stated.
“People’s beliefs about marriage are coming under increasing attack, and I am concerned about people’s freedom to speak and act upon these beliefs. I am a Christian, not just on a Sunday in church, but in every area of my life – as Jesus expects from his followers,” Mrs. Wilkinson said.
“We find this a strange justice in a society that aspires to be increasingly tolerant,” she added.
Mrs. Wilkinson’s legal defense was paid by The Christian Institute, a national charity that advocates for the civil liberty of Christians.
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Spokesman Mike Judge said the ruling revealed that homosexual rights seem to trump freedom of religion rights, and that a more balanced interpretation of the law is needed.
“Yes, Mrs Wilkinson’s B&B is a business, but it’s also a family home. The law should be more flexible in allowing people to live according to their own values under their own roof,” Judge said in a statement.
“A bit more balance is needed, rather than allowing one set of rights to automatically suppress another.”
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, legal defense organization that promotes religious freedom in the UK, warned that the ruling is another instance of the “narrowing of Christians’ freedom.”
“This is not the first time in the British courts that the rights of homosexual couples have trumped the rights of Christians to live out their faith,” Williams observed.
“As a result we are witnessing a narrowing of Christians’ freedom to live in line with their beliefs. Should marriage be re-defined, such cases are likely to become commonplace, with the freedom to express dissenting opinions on the issue being suppressed even further.”