Arguing in court for the right to turn people away from the inn isn’t a very Christian thing to do at Christmas
Ben Summerskill of Stonewall responds to the Christian “B&B” case ruling.
If the Bulls [the hoteliers] had a sense of humour, something they don’t seem God-blessed with, they might have spotted the irony of spending the Christmas season fighting for the entitlement to turn guests away from their inn.
During passage of the 2006 Equality Act, Stonewall fought hard to secure pioneering “goods and services” protections for lesbian and gay people, protecting them for the first time against discrimination in the delivery of public and commercial services. The preceding legal entitlement to deny gay people a service was every bit as offensive as the notorious signs outside guesthouses that once said: “No blacks. No Irish.” And people certainly took advantage of it, as lesbians denied smear tests and gay men refused holiday bookings were well aware.
If you allow businesses or public services to turn away gay people at will on trumped-up grounds of principle, as the Bulls would wish, then our public services will soon have to deal with the Jewish registrar with an ethical objection to marrying out, or a Muslim nurse who doesn’t wish to care for an unmarried mother. So the really important message from Bristol county court is simply that the appropriate “balance of rights” for modern Britain is one that keeps private prejudice out of the public space.
The Bulls’ shadowy supporter, the Christian Legal Centre, suggests it may turn to the law again. If so, it might reflect that, for the estimated £30,000 this court case has cost it, Oxfam or Save the Children could have vaccinated 100,000 people against meningitis in sub-Saharan Africa. Now that would have been a genuinely Christian way to spend its money.
Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2011/jan/18/christian-hoteliers-gay-couple-equality