Thinking Anglicans

Supreme Court dismisses B&B appeal

Updated 11 December

The case of Bull and another v Hall and another [2013] UKSC 73 was concluded in the Supreme Court this morning.

See earlier reports here, and here.

(See also here, but this other case has not, in the event, gone forward to the Supreme Court.)

Here is the Press Summary.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismisses the appeal. The leading judgment is given by Lady Hale, with supplementary judgments from all other members of the Court. On point (i) direct discrimination, Lady Hale, Lord Kerr and Lord Toulson hold that the Appellants’ policy constituted direct discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. On point (ii) indirect discrimination the Court unanimously holds that if (as Lord Neuberger and Lord Hughes consider) the Appellants’ policy constitutes indirect discrimination, it is
not justified. On point (iii) the ECHR issue, the Court unanimously holds that EASOR engages Article 9 ECHR, but is a justified and proportionate protection of the rights of others. There is therefore no breach of Article 9 ECHR which would require EASOR to be read down in the way the Appellants suggest.

And here is the full Judgment.

Update

UK Human Rights Blog Gay discrimination and Christian belief: Analysis of Bull v. Hall in the Supreme Court

Law and Religion UK Double rooms, gay couples, Christians and the clash of rights

Mark Hill Unlikely Bedfellows? The Supreme Court Considers Christianity and Homosexuality

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Martin ReynoldsErika BakerSusannahRichard AshbyInterested Observer Recent comment authors
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Susannah
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Susannah

I feel this couple have been manipulated like pawns by the evangelical Christian legal teams who have pushed this case again and again into what has ended up as a high-profile humiliation. I feel they have been ‘used’. Their starting point made a false assumption: that Christians can set themselves ‘above the law’ when it comes to the provision of services without discrimination. Discrimination is discrimination is discrimination. We (as the people of the UK) no longer want to live in a society where ‘No Blacks’ or ‘No Irish’ signs are hung in windows, with human beings being subject to… Read more »

Susannah
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Susannah

(…continued) I am left feeling irritated by the way I perceive this couple’s partisan legal advisors exploited them, and subjected them to further public shame. They participated in this process of course, but this forms part of the George Carey and evangelical ‘mythos’ that Christians are being ‘persecuted’ in the UK. The legal teams involved have ‘championed’ this couple all the way to predictable and justified defeat. It was a very stupid process, aimed at ‘making a point’ but in fact just making Christianity seem out-dated, intolerant and nasty. Turning people away from a shop, or hotel, or any other… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

I’m looking forward to Anglican Mainstream’s balanced, rational and nuanced response to this.

Mike Dark
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Mike Dark

I know we are coming up to Advent when we reflect on the miracle of God becoming human, but Anglican Mainstream coming up with “a balanced, rational and nuanced response” would be the miracle to outdo all other miracles.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“I am left feeling irritated by the way I perceive this couple’s partisan legal advisors exploited them, and subjected them to further public shame.”

It would take a man with a heart of stone not to laugh. They’ve gone out of business, have their hotel on the market at an undervalue because there’s no goodwill in the business and are now bitter, unhappy and unemployed. They knew exactly what they were doing, and have lost their campaign but, to judge from their and their backers’ statements, still haven’t learnt the lesson. They deserve absolutely no sympathy.

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Aidan’s complaint that such a competition of rights should leave the EHRC in a neutral position was neatly handled.

The Canadian cases pointed to a sensitive approach where there is a different outcome.

I understand the hoteliers are selling up.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Since the ‘Christian’ Institute insists in funding these failed legal actions one can only suppose that they are doing so, deliberately, knowing that they are going to lose. Unlike most organisations, losing is the purpose because it enables them to claim that ‘Christians’ are being denied their rights, that they are victim and that the rights of lgbt people always triumph over those of ‘Christians’. So they are creating a ‘victim’ narrative which is swallowed whole by the ignorant and naive, amongst whom is George Carey who no doubt is now proclaiming that the end of the church is even… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

I feel very sorry for the Bulls. They did something they genuinely thought was right and lawful. They were then manipulated by the Christian Centre to take more and more pointless legal action. Yes, they should not have gone to the Supreme Court but their legal advisers are more to blame than they are – how did these people think they would win? Why did they use the couple like that? I don’t understand why they put their guesthouse up for sale and why there is no goodwill – I thought it was doing well as an evangelical conference center… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

If I may be so bold: you can strictly follow (as you interpret) the prophets, or you can pursue profits. Choose one.

Robert ian Wiulliams
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Robert ian Wiulliams

I was surprised none of the judges focused on the fact that for some Christians simply being married doesn’t necessarily mean it is blessed by God. Did the Bulls ask to see marriage lines… the newly married couple could be in a marriage which resulted from divorce and a previous adultery.

If they had been catholics would the Bulls have asked the couple to declare they were not using contraceptives?

As for the Christian Institute they are rolling in money and now have a staff of nearly 50.

Chris Routledge
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Chris Routledge

“It would take a man with a heart of stone not to laugh.”

I sincerely hope that I have misunderstood the sentiment behind this sentence.

Whatever we think about this situation – and I do believe that they have largely brought about their own downfall, aided by their legal team – I am extremely uncomfortable that anyone could see this as a reason to laugh. Whether or not the couple deserve any sympathy, to laugh at the situation they now find themselves in is neither appropriate nor Christian.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

Erica, there was some talk in the spring of their becoming a non-profit and evading discrimination law that way. http://goo.gl/WmzXPg “The Bulls told The Cornishman (£) on Thursday they can get round equality laws legally after turning their establishment into a not-for-profit business. They said they can then specify that only people who respect their Christian beliefs can stay with them.” Obviously it came to nothing, because by September they were talking about having to sell up. http://goo.gl/AqO8VT “A British couple who were fined after refusing to allow a same-sex couple to stay in a double room at their hotel… Read more »

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

I am surprised that the inconsistency of the Bull’s practices haven’t been given more attention. Their website mentions the ‘Christian’ belief in marriage as the union of one man and one women for life. What is their opinion of the divorced and remarried, practices condemned in Scripture and yet funnily enough hardly ever mentioned by those of an evangelical stripe? Would they allow remarried couples a double bed? And were they consistent in their insistence that only married opposite sex couples could share a double bed. I have read recently, though I can’t now find it, that they weren’t so… Read more »

Susannah
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Susannah

Erica, I may not feel “very” sorry for the Bulls, but I do feel a bit sorry for them – because they’ve been taken in, both by crap legal teams, and by a theology that is simplistic and (they felt) mandated their discrimination. Having said that, if they are as committed to Christianity as they frankly appear (and I respect their underlying fidelity) then they must know that Christianity involves sacrificial living and the possibility, even, of death. It’s the terms and conditions of our faith. Whereas, yes, it’s clear they are unsuitable for the job they were doing and… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Richard and Interested Observer, there is no doubt that the Bulls are homophobic and that they thought their stance was moral and legal, neither of which it was. But they run a guest house, they’re not lawyers! They passionately believe they were right but they were pushed on and affirmed by a legal team that SHOULD have known better and that clearly did not worry about the effect this battle had on the couple. They were wrong. But they’re paying a very high price for being wrong. And, Susannah, I too feel sorry about the discrimination lgbt people experience and… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

There is indeed a little too much rhetoric. Many of those involved in these cases have indeed been “used” and even “abused” by campaigning organisations, but not all. Take Eweida v BA, she not only won her case but succeeded in changing a principle that had formerly been enshrined in judgments of the European court, as Lady Hale points out here. We also know from court records that Ms Eweida’s income as a celebrity martyr was greater than her salary at BA, and I think she is still doing well at it. While there are some lawyers involved who give… Read more »