A Christian bed and breakfast owner who refused to allow a gay couple to share a room at her Berkshire hotel must pay more than £3,000 in compensation to the couple
Mother-of-four Susanne Wilkinson, who told a judge she regularly denied beds to unmarried heterosexual couples because of her devout Christian beliefs, told Michael Black, 64, and his partner John Morgan, 59, they could not stay at her £75-a-night Swiss Bed and Breakfast in Cookham, Berkshire in March 2010.
Black and Morgan, whose case was funded by human rights group Liberty, argued it was unlawful under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Wilkinson, a former air-hostess said she had been "polite but firm" when she asked them to leave her B&B, but was then subject to years of obscene emails, texts, damning TripAdvisor reviews, cancelled reservations and even death threats.
Wilkinson and her husband Mike reportedly received “hundreds of emails an hour” from around the world, as well as phone calls and texts – some which were “very sexually explicit”.
Wilkinson said she was not homophobic but believes unmarried sex is a sin.
The judge accepted the "sincerity of her Christian beliefs" but still ruled that her refusal of a bed was discriminatory.
Wilkinson said after the ruling: "Naturally, my husband and I are disappointed to have lost the case and to have been ordered to pay £3,600 in damages for injury to feelings.
"We have the option to appeal and we will give that serious consideration.
"We believe a person should be free to act upon their sincere beliefs about marriage under their own roof without living in fear of the law.
"Equality laws have gone too far when they start to intrude into a family home.
"People’s beliefs about marriage are coming under increasing attack and I am concerned about people’s freedom to speak and act upon these beliefs.
"I am a Christian, not just on a Sunday in church, but in every area of my life - as Jesus expects from his followers.
"That’s all I was trying to do and I think it’s quite wrong to punish me for that especially after enduring over two years of vile abuse and threats.
'We find this a strange justice in a society that aspires to be increasingly tolerant."
The Christian Institute, which works to protect the rights of Christians.
Its spokesman Mike Judge said: “Yes, Mrs Wilkinson’s B&B is a business, but it’s also a family home.
"The law should be more flexible in allowing people to live according to their own values under the own roof.
"A bit more balance is needed, rather than allowing one set of rights to automatically suppress another.”