Christian B&B Owners Fined for Denying a Room to a Homosexual Couple

Country: United Kingdom

Date of incident: October 22, 2012

Christian bed and breakfast owners Mike and Susanne Wilkinson lost a lawsuit on their married-couples-only policy and were fined over 3.500 pounds for denying a double room to a homosexual couple. The Wilkinson's Bed&Breakfast is located in their own house where they live with their children. The courts apply a "zero tolerance" policy on grounds of "unlawful discrimination".

The homosexual couple Michael Black and John Morgan sued Francis and Susanne Wilkinson, owners of a bed and breakfast in Berkshire. When the men requested a room, Mrs. Wilkinson explained their policy of not offering double beds to homosexual couples and, as the single rooms were fully booked, repaid their deposit immediately. Mr. Black said that “she wasn’t rude or abusive,” but the couple reported the matter to area police as a “homophobic incident.” As the matter fell under civil and not criminal law, the police did not take action, but Mr. Black and Mr. Morgan are considering suing the couple. The Wilkinsons report that they have been "inundated with abusive calls and emails” over the matter. Homosexual lobby group Stonewall claimed the Wilkinsons have broken the law. Spokesman Derek Munn said: “In open and shut cases of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation the law’s quite clear – it’s illegal for businesses to turn away gay customers or discriminate against them when providing goods or services, and this can’t be overridden by personal prejudice.” But the Wilkinsons maintain their right to act according to religious conscience with regard to running their B&B, which in addition to being their privately-owned business, is also their home. Mr. Wilkinson told the press, “Of course everybody has the freedom to live as they choose but we feel that in our own home we have every right to say no to something we don't agree with.” The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said of the matter, “Nobody should be forced to act against their own beliefs within their own home… Suing someone because you don’t like their beliefs is illiberal, undemocratic and has no place in a free society.” “The legal situation is that breaking the sexual discrimination act is not a criminal offence so there would be no consequences for the B&B owner unless we took legal action,” Black told media. “These cases reinforce the fact that discrimination of any kind is wrong, both legally and morally.” The Daily Mail reports that the two men booked their room online but when they arrived Mrs. Wilkinson told them “it is against my convictions for two men to share a bed’, adding ‘this is my private home.” Wilkinson returned their deposit and asked them, politely, to leave. “She said she was sorry and she was polite in a cold way and she was not abusive, so we asked our money back and she gave it to us,” Black told the Mail. Black implied that the solution is for people with traditional British Christian moral values to stay out of any business or employment that would bring them into contact with the public. “If anyone thinks that providing a public service may conflict with their religious beliefs they should question whether that is a suitable business for them.” In October 2012, the Wilkinsons lost the case and were ordered to pay over 3500 pounds in damages.
View a BBC report (2:02) (October 2012) Radio (5 min): Reports in 2011: View report on