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Hotel policy discriminated against gay couple
In Bull and another v Hall and another, the Supreme Court has given judgment on the decision of a hotel only to let married heterosexual couples share a room with a double bed. It considered this amounted to direct discrimination against a homosexual couple in a civil partnership under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007. The requirement to be married was imposed by the hotel owners because of their religious beliefs but the Supreme Court considered it was discriminatory because gay people cannot get married. A minority of the Supreme Court also considered that the hotel’s policy was unjustified indirect discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
The policy extended to unmarried heterosexual couples as well as gay couples: they, like homosexual couples had to have a double room with two single beds. Hence even though the unmarried heterosexual couples were treated in the same way as gay couples, the crucial difference is because gay couples cannot marry but have to utilise the civil partnership option. Once the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 comes into force, presumably this type of discrimination will not be an issue.
This legal update is provided for general information purposes only and should not be applied to specific circumstances without prior consultation with us.
For further details on any of the issues covered in this update please contact Gemma Ospedale, Partner in Employment on 020 7583 2222.
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