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Gay couple turned away from B&B

bedandbreakfastThames Valley police are investigating claims by a gay couple that they were turned away from a local B&B purely because the establishment’s owner did not like the fact that they were gay and intended to share a bed. Since the introduction of the Equality Act in 2006, it has been illegal to discrminate against people on the grounds of sexual orientation – and this includes providers of goods and services.

Michael Black and John Morgan, from Brampton, Cambridgeshire, had booked a double room at the Swiss B&B in Cookham. When they arrived, owner Susanne Wilkinson refused to let them stay, and has since admitted that it was because they were gay, and that it was against her policy to accommodate same-sex couples.

Ms Wilkinson told the BBC, “They gave me no prior warning and I couldn't offer them another room as I was fully booked.”

“I don't see why I should change my mind and my beliefs I've held for years just because the government should force it on me. I am not a hotel, I am a guest house and this is a private house.”

Mr Black said, “We're two respectable middle-aged men - John is leader of the Lib Dem group on Huntingdon Town Council. This was the first time either of us had experienced homophobia at first hand, despite being aged 56 and 62. We were shocked and embarrassed.”

Gay rights charity Stonewall says that this is a blatant example of discrimination. Derek Munn, director of public affairs, 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.”

Posted: 22 March 2010

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