Friday, 10 February 2012

Chymorvah Appeal ruling

Allsorts disappointed with ruling
Peter and Hazel Bull of the Chymorvah Private Hotel in Marazion have lost their appeal to treat civil partnerships differently to marriage as a matter of religious belief.

Full ruling -  Bull & Bull v Hall & Preddy

This means that while the Bulls cannot refuse to have civil partners sharing a double bed,  exclusively gay hotel owners will rely on there being no specific cases which challenge their own blatantly discriminatory practices.  

A marketing term applies here; "gay-friendly" hotels are hotels which reassure guests who happen to be gay that they are welcome. "Exclusively gay" hotels are a significant niche market which specializes in welcoming guests who are gay. They are usually run by hoteliers who are also gay. They exclude other other guests on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender. It is not clear that this has been legal for a while now, but there has been no significant challenge to the practice, only to some of the advertising.

The popular Pride Lodge in Blackpool advertises
Pride Lodge offers '4 star' accommodation specifically for the LGBT guest and their friends. We do not masquerade as a Blackpool Gay Hotel, we are exclusive and choose not to accept bookings for families or Stag and Hen parties,
So Pride Lodge does not accept a) heterosexuals (unless perhaps you are a friend of an LGBT person) and b) married heterosexuals. It believes it can treat people in civil partnerships differently to those in marriages - precisely the opposite of what was intended in law, now clarified in the Chymorvah case.

Hamilton Hall in Bournemouth is run by John Bellamy, offering specialist retreats exclusively for men; there is an emphasis on gay men but the hotel says that it will accept bookings from heterosexual men.  It wasn't him who worried about the Chymorvah's inconsistencies:
"Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."
Bellamy apparently understood the danger and intolerance of the Chymorvah case but perhaps was poorly quoted in February last year:
"We've been campaigning for this law for years so that everyone is equal, but it could spell the end of gay-only resorts."
Well then, maybe either stop campaigning and accept that if you want to discriminate, the others will have to be allowed to as well. 

Bellamy immediately went to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) for legal advice.  They say they won't prosecute him - because it is alright to discriminate if you are gay but not if you hold religious beliefs -  ands since they can veto these cases they can probably prevent anyone else suing him.
Hamilton Hall is also the first men only hotel in the UK to be investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and be allowed to continue being a MEN ONLY HOTEL. 
In a similar vein, Guyz Hotel has changed its wording which used to specify that the hotel was exclusively male and exclusively gay, so that now is by implication. Except on the nudist weekends where you can be gay or bisexual but must be male. And naked, thus bringing it with the possible exceptions.

Key West in Torquay is an entire resort which is exclusively male, gay and bi-sexual i.e. it discriminates against exclusively heterosexual men, and women.  It does this by bringing itself within the definition of a private club.
At Key West Resort our ethos is to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for Gay and bisexual men. In order for us to achieve this Key West will operate as a Private Members Club. To use the facilities or to stay at the resort it is a requirement that you fit the criteria of the membership, Gay or Bisexual Male, you will be required to sign an acknowledgement (or tick the accept box when booking online) that you have read and agree to the membership rules.
A gay club can refuse to allow heterosexual married Christians in at all by calling themselves a club, but a Christian heterosexual hotelier cannot refuse to allow a pair in a civil partnership to share a double bed. Can you agree to be discriminated against?  That surely does not give  protection against the legislation. Maybe Chymorvah should just make it clear that it is private members club.

In the year since the original  Hall & Preddy v Bull & Bull case there has been a subtle change on the websites and marketing.  It is still clear which are the exclusively gay hotels but some of them have become reluctant to be identified. The case has done nothing to help them openly promote their businesses, which have had to go back to the days of people knowing which were the gay places and which not.  Cliff House in Devon has been established as a gay-owned, gay-clientel hotel for forty years now, but does that mean it will refuse bookings from hetersexual couples? It is difficult to tell from its gallery which includes things such as "Gareth's Mum's Wedding".

What should have worried the EHRC was that both the comments in Pink News and a balanced piece by Nelson Jones in the New Statesman  lacked sympathy with the prosecution.  It is obvious to anyone who isn't a lawyer that what matters is everyone making a living and everyone getting the hotel room they want.  That is best done by tolerating the inconsistency on both sides. The price for gay hotels is the very modest one of a couple of insignificant private hotels which are barely any different from the Pink House in Brighton.  They just all operate slightly different exclusion criteria.  Goose. Sauce. Gander.

There are female hotels too.  Hitherto a smaller sector, they may appeal to gay women but the overall sense is of refined gentility which relies on nicely brought up ladies not wishing to bump in to wuff gentlemen in the corridors.  The demand for this is growing. You would not worry about your daughter or your granny using these exquisite rooms; they might also appeal to ladies of very orthodox religious views.  Overall there is more tolerance of this version of discrimination but the growth in the service has become controversial as business hotels begin to reserve corridors by gender - and may refuse a booking from a man if there are only 'female' rooms left.

The irony is that while the Chymorvah hotel in Marazion found itself in the middle of a fight because it refused entry to two men who happened to be civil partners,  the original claimants Hall and Preddy didn't rock up to the beatiful women-only  Chymorgen on the North Cornwall coast only a few miles away and demand to be let in.

Apparently they don't mind being discriminated against on the basis that they are men, but they do mind that a pair of Christians won't recognize their civil partnership as equivalent to marriage. 

It is, and was, always about trying to force the public, and especially the orthodox Christians,  to accept civil partnership as marriage, which is why Hall and Preddy went to Chymorvah and not Chymorgen. 


Earlier link: Marriage a la mode - Popcorn

1 comment:

JuliaM said...

Spot on!

There's a nasty intolerant streak, most at odds with the traditional British 'live and let live', brewing in so many areas lately. The subject of prayer in local council meetings and solicitors administering oaths is another front line too...