Sunday, 21 March 2010

No room at the Inn

There has been furious response from gay rights campaigners, bordering on harassment, towards Christian bed-and-breakfast owner that is facing legal action for breaching discrimination laws after turning away a gay couple.

On Friday, 19th, Michael Black and John Morgan, from Brampton, Cambridgeshire, intended to stay one night at the Swiss B&B in Cookham in Berkshire. But when Susanne Wilkinson discovered that 2 men had booked a double room to share a bed, she refused them entry. Mrs Wilkinson did so in cold but polite way and refunded the full amount. The B&B owners have reclined from public view after the wave of hate mail, but talking to the BBC on Monday Mrs Wilkinson insultingly added that she was given no "prior warning" about their sexuality. It saddens me that there is so much ignorance in any area of society, but its particularly disappointing when found in the educated and "respectful" middle classes, who should, apparently know better.

The couple had been in town to meet some friends for dinner and to see a local play, after their cancel room they had to drive the 80miles home for the night. They later reported the discrimination to Thames Valley police and it is being investigated. Michael Black, a 62-year-old self-employed exams consultant, said: "We're two respectable middle-aged men. John is leader of the Liberal Democrats group on Huntingdon town council. Both were - obviously -thoroughly embarrassed by the reaction of homophobic Susanne. I agree that Susanne has the right to her opinion and has the right to say who and who doesn't stay in her home, but by going into business as a bed-and-breakfast opens you to the public, removing that right of favouritism and enforcing the law upon you.

The whole situation is dramatic and I hope it doesn't escalate to proportions as it did in March last year in Penzance, Cornwall, which lead to a gay couple suing a hotel for for thousands in damages after not letting them share a double room because they weren't married. It is a shame that people have taken it upon themselves to send abusive and threatening letters to the other wise respectable Wilkinson family, but then everyone loves a scapegoat.

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