It’s taken three years, but the owners of a B&B are now being ordered to pay a gay couple $4,500 after refusing to rent them a room at their inn, based on the fact that the men were gay. The owners argued before a hearing with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal in Canada that they had a constitutionally protected right to freedom of religion on their side.
The married couple who own the B&B say they hold “sincere religious beliefs” opposing same-sex couples. They argued that they often hold prayer meetings and feel responsible for the behavior of their guests, reports the Vancouver Sun, so it was okay to ban any guests they want.
The trouble started when one of the men called in July 2009 to make a reservation for a room with a single bed. The wife took the call and later felt she’d accidentally rented the room to gay men, so her husband called back and asked if the couple was indeed homosexual. The man affirmed they were, and the owner said his stay was “not going to work out.”
A tribunal member disagreed with the owners’ reasoning, saying the bed and breakfast room wasn’t a part of their personal living space and was operated like a hotel or motel.
“Having entered into the commercial sphere, the [owners], like other business people, were required to comply with the laws of the province … that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” the member wrote, adding that the constitutional argument had no bearing as the B&B wasn’t run by a church.
The B&B has since closed, and the couple testified they suffered harassment because of the controversy and were worried about similar complaints in the future.