It is interesting to note that the recent court case where a gay couple who had booked a double room in a hotel in Cornwall run by a Christian couple were turned away when they arrived on the grounds that the hotel owners did not believe in sex before marriage. Now the gay couple just happened to have been married through civil partnership – in other words legally married.
It is therefore difficult to see what the problem would have been unless of course that the form of civil marriage is not one that they particularly subscribed to and as far as I am aware there are not many hotels that who ask for a marriage licence as part of their booking conditions.
Not unsurprisingly the couple were somewhat offended by this action and took the hotel to court claiming it was direct discrimination. The court found in their favour.
Just another landmark on the way to stop discrimination, but what is important here how people perceive their rights to be higher and more justified than anyone else’s. In this instance is just happened to be two sets of people with protected characteristics which gave them the right to claim discrimination. But would it have been any less offensive, or less discriminatory, if the couple had turned someone away on the grounds of their beliefs whose characteristics were not covered by the Equality Act?
Discrimination should not be seen as something as defined in an Act – you can’t discriminate against people with protected characteristics as they have rights, but it’s ok to discriminate against anyone else because they don’t. The essence of the problem is the fact that people feel they have the right to impose their moral standards and judgements on others and discrimination, whether legal or not, is not something we should condone.