17. February 2012 14:55
This week in the Court of Appeal, Christian hoteliers Peter and Hazelmary Bull have lost their right to discriminate against a gay couple who are legally married (alright then, in a civil partnership if you must).
It was a horrible case of blatant religious homophobia and intolerance, of the most insulting and demeaning kind. Yet we can't help but feel a little sorry for this couple. For a start, running a business which involves giving your home over to strangers is kind of an odd way to earn a living. Most B&B owners still regard their properties as their homes first and foremost, and a business second. And we all cherish the right to disallow whomever we like from crossing our threshold. But the ability to discriminate against gay people isn't part of that deal. If you decide to open a B&B in your home you give up your right to provide services on a partial and discriminatory way. Clearly this couple didn't understand that offering services to all equally is part of the deal. They only have themselves to blame for that.
There's another uncomfortable side to this story. In the Christians-as-victims narrative that's taking place in the UK at the moment, small test cases like this one are routinely backed up by big-money organisations - in this case the Christian Institute. They seek to portray such cases as Christian beliefs being trampled by political correctness and equality. On the other side of the coin Stonewall have provided backup to the gay couple in question. Big names, big money involved and lots at stake. Thank God that freedom from intolerance and discrimination won out this time.
But we can't help feeling that without the backing of the big guns - this case would not have made the news, and may have even been settled to everybody's satisfaction amicably. So much for peach, love and understanding.