Morgan and Black v Wilkinson

Henrietta Hill is representing Michael Black and John Morgan, gay partners who were refused accommodation at a Berkshire Bed and Breakfast in March 2010. They were turned away by the owner who indicated that permitting two men to share a bed was against her convictions.

 

They have brought a claim for unlawful discrimination in the provision of goods and services on the grounds of their sexual orientation under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007. These regulations have now been replaced - and effectively re-enacted by - the Equality Act 2010.

 

The couple's case was heard at Reading County Court on 17 September 2012. The owner of the bed and breakfast property, represented by James Dingemans QC, argued that she was justified in refusing the couple entry on the basis of her own human rights to religious belief and the privacy of her home.

 

Henrietta is instructed by James Welch, legal director of Liberty, who said:

"A business with a "no gays policy" is as bad as one that says "no blacks; no Irish". Liberty defends the rights of religious groups to manifest their beliefs, even when we disagree with them, but not to discriminate in the provision of goods and services."

 

The case is expected to be a test case on the proper scope of the Regulations, and follows on from the related case of Bull and Bull v Hall and Preddy [2012] 2 All ER 1017, in which a hotel owner also sought exemption from the Regulations.

 

Judgment is expected in the next few weeks.

 

For press coverage of the case see: The Independent , The Daily Mail and BBC

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