LONDON – A senior judge in the U.K. has ruled that the owner of a bed and breakfast ‘directly discriminate[d]’ against two homosexual men by not allowing them to spend the night together in a bedroom.
For six years, Susanne Wilkinson has been the owner of the three-room Swiss Bed and Breakfast in Cookham, England. In March 2010, Michael Black and John Morgan attempted to stay at the bed and breakfast, but when Wilkinson learned that the two homosexual men wanted to share a room for the night, she turned them down. Black and Morgan sued Wilkinson, and last year a county court ruled in favor of the men, awarding them £3,600–approximately $5,400. However, Wilkinson appealed the ruling, and her case was eventually brought before Lord Dyson—the second highest judge in England.
The 24-page court ruling, released on Tuesday, begins with an explanation of how Wilkinson’s faith plays a central role in her life and business.
“The defendant is a committed Christian,” the ruling explains. “She believes that the Bible is the word of God and this belief informs everything that she does in her life both at home and at work. There are Bibles and tracts in every room and Bible verses on display. There are flyers on the notice board in the kitchen/dining room from missionaries. She says that she has tried to live her life and carry out her work in accordance with her deeply held Christian beliefs.”
Furthermore, as part of her official witness statement, Wilkinson describes how she as a Christian believes heterosexual marriage is appropriate, but “homosexual sexual relations (as opposed to homosexual orientation) and heterosexual sexual relations outside marriage are wrong.”
“Therefore since I started the business,” she continued, “I have sought to restrict the sharing of the double rooms to heterosexual, preferably married couples. I use the word ‘preferably’ because it is impossible to know whether a heterosexual couple is married unlike with a homosexual couple and it would be offensive to pry into their personal lives when booking or on arrival. … I have turned away several unmarried heterosexual couples from the outset where it was obvious that they were unmarried from the fact that they only wanted to use the room during the day for sex. I have also made it very clear to members of our own family and friends that we would not allow them to share a double room with their partner if they are not married.”
Lord Dyson reasons in his ruling that “the right of a homosexual not to suffer discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is an important human right.” He claims it is just as important as “the freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief.” Ultimately, he concludes that because Wilkinson “directly discriminates against homosexual couples on the ground of their sexual orientation,” Black and Morgan’s complaints were justifiable and appropriate. However, even though the court ruled in favor of the men, the U.K.’s Supreme Court will hear the case in October.
In a statement released by The Christian Institute—a charity group that supported Wilkinson’s case—Wilkinson stated how she is disappointed by the court’s decision, but takes comfort knowing that God is still with her.
“It’s sad that cases like this are coming to court in a country that has a great Christian heritage,” she remarked. “However, whatever the outcome of my case, my faith is grounded in a sovereign, loving and unchanging God and his eternal plans and purposes.”
Photo: The Swiss Bed and Breakfast