North’s AG queries ruling against owners who banned gay couple from guesthouse

John Larkin says Supreme Court argument failed to understand orthodox Christian position

Northern Ireland’s Attorney General John Larkin: The “extent of the failure to understand the orthodox Christian position” was “striking”. Photograph: NewRay Pics

Northern Ireland’s Attorney General John Larkin: The “extent of the failure to understand the orthodox Christian position” was “striking”. Photograph: NewRay Pics

Fri, Jan 31, 2014, 01:00


The North’s Attorney General John Larkin has questioned the British Supreme Court’s ruling upholding judgments against the Christian owners of a guesthouse who were ordered to pay damages for refusing to provide accommodation to a gay couple.

In November the Supreme Court upheld two judgments in which Hazelmary (69) and Peter Bull (74) were ordered to pay £3,600 in damages.

They had refused to let civil partners Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall stay in a double room at their guesthouse in Cornwall in 2008.

Mr and Mrs Bull said they regarded sex outside marriage as a “sin” and their decision was founded on a “religiously informed judgment of conscience”.

Mr Larkin queried this yesterday during a conference at Presbyterian Church headquarters in Belfast on The Church in the Public Square.

Mr Larkin focused on a paragraph in the judgment of Baroness Hale, deputy president of the Supreme Court.

“There is no question of refusing legal oppression of one community, homosexual couples,with legal oppression of another, those sharing the defendants’ beliefs,” she wrote.

“If Mr Preddy and Mr Hall ran a hotel which denied a double room to Mr and Mrs Bull, whether on the grounds of their Christian beliefs or the grounds of their sexual orientation, they would find themselves in same situation that Mr and Mrs Bull find themselves today.”

Mr Larkin argued that Baroness Hale offered a “false equivalence” in that she did not appear to appreciate the nature of Christian objection. The “extent of the failure to understand the orthodox Christian position” was “striking”.

Christians who adhered to “traditional Christian law principles cannot without committing sin” enable his or her premises to be used to facilitate a purpose which that Christian believes to be sinful.

“To do so, the Christian believes, is to be complicit in the sin,” said Mr Larkin.