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Gay couple 'turned away from guesthouse because their sexuality was against owner's convictions'


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Gay couple 'turned away from guesthouse because their sexuality was against owner's convictions'



By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 8:14 AM on 22nd March 2010




A gay couple claim they were turned away from a bed and breakfast because the owner said it was 'against her convictions' for them to share a bed.


Police are investigating after Michael Black, 62, and John Morgan, 56, complained that the owner of the Swiss B&B in Cookham, near Maidenhead in Berkshire, had unlawfully discriminated against them.


The couple, from Brampton in Cambridgeshire, arrived at the £75-a-night guest house on Friday and were met outside by the owner, Susanne Wilkinson.




Angry: Gay couple Michael Black, left, and John Morgan claim they were discriminated against by a B&B owner who refused to let them share a bed


'She could see through the windscreen that we were two men,' said Mr Black.

'And when we got out of the car she was immediately distant and unfriendly and then she said, "it's a double room", and we said "yes".


'She said, "It's a large double bed in a double room" and we said, "yes", and then she said it was against her convictions to let us stay.


'We said it was illegal to discriminate against people who stay in hotels because that's all we knew at the time and she said it was her private home and it was against her convictions.


'She said she was sorry and she was polite in a cold way and she was not abusive, so we asked our money back and she gave it to us.'


Mr Black said the couple were 'very angry' but then met friends nearby and went to the theatre but decided to drive the 80 miles back to their home with their 'adrenaline pumping'.


'We were very shocked, and of course angry, that it happened. Neither of us has ever experienced homophobia before and I have been out since 1974.


'We felt we were treated like lepers and not fit to be under the same roof as her.'


Mr Black said that Mrs Wilkinson has said the men should have warned her, but the self-employed trainer said: 'It would be like saying to someone who runs a guest house, "I'm black or Muslim or blue-eyed" just in case they have a problem with it.


'There is no reason why we had to make it clear we were two men in this day and age. We have stayed in plenty of guest houses in Britain and abroad and have never had a problem.'


Mr Black said the couple had been interviewed by Cambridgeshire police after they first complained to Thames Valley Police online.




'Warm welcome': The Swiss Bed and Breakfast in Cookham


He said they had been advised the offence would be treated as a civil matter and they should take Mrs Wilkinson to county court.


But Mr Black said he understood that under the Equality Act 2006 it is illegal to discriminate against people on the grounds of sexual orientation, even in a guest house.


Mrs Wilkinson did not answer her phone at the guest house last night. But earlier she told BBC News she had turned the men away.


'They gave me no prior warning and I couldn't offer them another room as I was fully booked.


'I don't see why I should change my mind and my beliefs I've held for years just because the government should force it on me,' she said.


'I am not a hotel, I am a guest house and this is a private house.'


The B&B's website boasts: 'A warm and friendly welcome awaits all guests at Susanne Wilkinson's Swiss Bed & Breakfast in the idyllic village of Cookham, near Maidenhead in Berkshire.


'This Swiss-English family offers first class hospitality in their spacious and comfortable home to business, tourist or family visitors from all around the world. English, French and German spoken.'


A spokesman for Stonewall, the gay rights campaign group, said that turning a couple away because of their sexual orientation was illegal.


Spokesman Derek Munn said: 'Stonewall was delighted when the law changed in 2007 so that lesbian and gay couples could go on their holidays like anyone else.


'In open-and-shut cases of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation the law's quite clear - it's illegal for businesses to turn away gay customers or discriminate against them when providing goods or services, and this can't be overridden by personal prejudice.'


A spokeswoman for Thames Valley Police said: 'We are aware of the incident and were contacted yesterday. The call has been logged as a homophobic incident.


'As the people live outside of the force area, we have asked Cambridgeshire Constabulary to speak to the individuals concerned.'

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