B&B owner loses Appeal

Publish Date: 22/07/2013

Earlier this month The Court of Appeal has held that refusing a homosexual couple a double bedded room in a bed and breakfast was direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Geraldine from O’ Neill Patient Solicitors LLP  explains the law around discrimination and The Equality Act.

Susanne Wilkinson, a Christian, tried not to allow unmarried couples, whether homosexual or otherwise, to share a double bed in the guest house that she ran; The Swiss Bed and Breakfast in Berkshire.  Based on her religious beliefs she refused to let Michael Black and John Morgan share the same bed during March 2010.

The couple who were turned away on arrival brought claims of direct and indirect discrimination under the Equality Act.  The Equality Act makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation in an employment context and also in the provision of good, facilities and services to the public.  

In October 2012, the couple were awarded £1800 each for "injury to feelings" at Reading County Court.  It was held that a requirement to be married was discriminatory because gay people cannot get married.

Mrs Wilkinson appealed to the Court of Appeal which was heard on Tuesday 9th July.  

The Court of Appeal upheld the previous decision and held that there was unlawful direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.  

Mrs Wilkinson was given permission to appeal against the ruling to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.

O’ Neill Patient Solicitors LLP has a Dispute Resolution and Employment department dealing with discrimination law.  Please call us for a free initial interview on 0844 576 2121 if any of these matters affect you or drop into the Legal Surgery held on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at the LGF, more information here.