Grayling supports B&Bs over gay guests

By stafff

Bed and breakfasts should not have to accept gay couples if they do not want to, shadow home secretary Chris Grayling has said.

The comments came in a secretly recorded response during a question and answer session at the centre for Policy Reform last week. It was published on the Observer website today.

During his comments, Mr Grayling, who would be responsible for upholding equality legislation if the Tories win the general election, contrasts B&Bs with hotels in the application of the law on equality.

“I think we need to allow people to have their own consciences,” he can be heard saying.

“I personally always took the view that… if you look at the case of ‘Should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from their hotel?’ I took the view that if it’s a question of somebody who’s doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn’t come into their own home.

“If they are running a hotel on the High Street, I really don’t think that it is right in this day and age that a gay couple should walk into a hotel and be turned away because they are a gay couple, and I think that is where the dividing line comes.”

The question seems to refer back to the case of Michael Black and John Morgan, who were recently turned away from a B&B in Berkshire.

The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 bans discrimination in the provision of goods and services.

In a statement given to the BBC today, Mr Grayling said: “Any suggestion that I am against gay rights is wholly wrong – it is a matter of record that I voted for civil partnerships.

“I also voted in favour of the legislation that prohibited bed and breakfast owners from discriminating against gay people.

“However, this is a difficult area and on Wednesday I made comments which reflected my view that we must be sensitive to the genuinely held principles of faith groups in this country.

“But the law is now clear on this issue, I am happy with it and would not wish to see it changed.”