(Photo: Reuters/Andrew Winning)
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom ruled on Wednesday against the Christian owners of a bed and breakfast hotel who refused to allow a gay couple to stay.
"Sexual orientation is a core component of a person's identity which requires fulfillment through relationships with others of the same orientation," explained Lade Hale, deputy president of the Supreme Court, according to The Guardian.
"Homosexuals can enjoy the same freedom and the same relationships as any others. But we should not under-estimate the continuing legacy of those centuries of discrimination, persecution even, which is still going on in many parts of the world," Hale added in the decision.
Peter and Hazelmary Bull, a Christian couple from Cornwall, had challenged an earlier court decision that had them pay $5,000 in damages for refusing to allow a gay couple to stay at one of their double rooms.
"We are deeply disappointed and saddened by the outcome. We are just ordinary Christians who believe in the importance of marriage as the union of one man and one woman," Hazelmary Bull said after the ruling.
"Our B&B is not just our business, it's our home. All we have ever tried to do is live according to our own values, under our own roof. These beliefs are not based on hostility to anyone – we certainly bear no ill will to Steven and Martyn. Our policy is based on our sincere beliefs about marriage," Bull said, referring to the gay couple.
Bull added that she believes Britain should be a country of freedom and tolerance, but religious beliefs seem to have been relegated to "second fiddle" in favor of political correctness.
"We appealed to the supreme court to introduce a bit more balance when dealing with competing rights of sexual orientation and religious liberty. Somehow, we have got to find a way of allowing different beliefs to coexist in our society. But the judges have sidestepped that big issue, and reinforced the notion that gay rights must trump everything else."
The Christian couple, who opened the Chymorvah guesthouse in 1986, previously said that they were "besieged" by demands for double rooms by homosexual couples as a response to their policy against gay couples, and had received "abusive and menacing" phone calls.
Gay rights group Stonewall praised the Supreme Court for defending the rights of gay customers, and argued that "a far more Christian thing to do would be to fight the evils of poverty and disease worldwide."
Mike Judge from the Christian Institute argued, however, that what the case "shows is that the powers of political correctness have reached all the way to the top of the judicial tree, so much so that even the Supreme Court dare not say anything against gay rights."
Gay marriage is set to become legal in England and Wales in 2014 after the U.K. Parliament passed such legislation in July.