Gay Canadian Couple Win B&B Discrimination Case

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Thursday July 19, 2012

A British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled that a bed and breakfast illegally discriminated against a gay couple when they refused to give them a room in 2009, CBC News reported.

The tribunal ruled against Les and Susan Molnar, the owners of Riverbend B&B, for not giving Brian Thomas and Shaun Eadie a room because they are gay.

During the hearing, the Molnars said they did not give the room to the couple because of their Christian religious beliefs. But the tribunal ruled that they were required to follow laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

"Sometimes you have to stick your neck out, and we stuck our necks out and we feel good and vindicated that we did for the benefit of people coming behind us," Thomas said.

The B&B owners were ordered to pay Thomas and Eadie $4,400 (Canadian) in compensation and expenses.

This isn't the first time a gay couple has been discriminated against by a B&B.

Earlier this year in England, gay couple Steve Preddy and Martyn Hall won their case against a B&B owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who denied them a room in 2008.

The hotel owners tried to appeal the case but a British appeals court ruled that the Bulls must pay the couple nearly $5,700 in damages for turning them away because they are gay.

"Whilst the appellants' beliefs about sexual practice may not find the acceptance that once they did, nevertheless a democratic society must ensure that their espousal and expression remain open to those who hold them," Lady Justice Rafferty said.

Another similar incident occurred when Susanne Wilkinson, the owner of a Swiss B&B, allegedly refused to allow gay couple Michael Black and John Morgan to stay at her inn. Wilkinson said it was against her convictions "to allow men to share the same room."

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

Black said he was surprised by Wilkinson's reaction.

"We were very shocked, and of course angry, that it happened. Neither of us has ever experienced homophobia before and I have been out since 1974," Black said. "We felt we were treated like lepers and not fit to be under the same roof as her."