B and B owners lose gay case

The Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that two B and B owners who were committed Christians could not refuse to allow a same sex couple to stay in their property.

The Society of Friends, when the equalities legislation was going through Parliament, was quoted as saying that it didn’t want discrimination against either religious belief/lack of it or sexual orientation.  As is so often the case, the law then has to resolve conflicts between rights.

If the issue was race or disability no-one would be arguing, and if it was about gender there would have to be some objective reason to stand any chance of success.  What the Court had to decide is whether being in a gay relationship was ‘worse’ than working for an unethical bank or any one of a thousand other things one might see as a sin.  Or just more visible.

I think most Quakers would see a B and B as being a business and would agree with the law.  If you don’t want gay people in your home, don’t advertise it as a B and B.  Where the boundary between private and public lies is open to debate, and also, how far one can go to create an ethos.  You could advertise “We hold evangelical prayer meetings every morning and hope you will attend” but I know lots of LGBT people who would love that.

I think how we work forward with some give and take will be interesting in the years ahead.  It seems unfortunate the matter needed to go to court and I am sure most such conflicts are resolved otherwise.

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