September 5, 2013

Refusal of B & B was discriminatory

The owner of the B & B was Christian. She claimed that it was against her religious belief to tolerate the sharing of double rooms by homosexual couples. She would only allow monogamous heterosexual married couples to book double rooms, on the basis that, to do otherwise, would conflict with her religious beliefs. The Court of Appeal concluded that the County Court was correct to decide that this was a case of direct discrimination; but that if it had not been, it would still have been indirect discrimination because the Defendant’s policy put homosexual couples at a disadvantage on the ground of their sexual orientation compared to heterosexual couples.

Furthermore, the Defendant would not have been able to justify the treatment of homosexual couples on the basis of her own right to manifest her religious beliefs and to the enjoyment of her home because the proportionality issue would have gone in favour of the Claimants. Priority is only given to religious beliefs in certain narrowly construed circumstances; and the Defendant had not succeeded in showing that she would suffer damage if she was not allowed to refuse rooms to homosexual couples.

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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