B and B owners in the dock again over gay issue

Today was another leap forward and a cause for celebration for gay equality with a DECLARATION OF UNLAWFUL BEHAVIOR in favour of a gay couple who were refused a double room at a B&B in Cornwall. But before we had time to pop the champagne cork the ‘religious freedom card’ is being wheeled out and the debate starts to get heated.

I have read a lot of bile and baloney in amongst all the excellent commentary. But I think the whole issue boils down to two important points:

The first is a legal one. If you choose to open up your home as a hotel or a B&B then it becomes a commercial enterprise which means that community standards and laws apply. So in law there is no basis for turning someone away for being gay irrespective of your own views. To do so is every bit as bad and illegal as turning someone away for being black or Irish as happened in the 1950’s.

The second is more moral and humane, which I hope reflects a changing world of different social attitudes in which gay and lesbian people are not just tolerated but embraced and accepted. The judge in the case talked about a change in social attitudes which ‘cuts across’ some people’s beliefs.

Clearly some B&B owners are lagging behind that change in social attitudes. 13% of owners at B&BOWNERS.CO.UK report that same sex couples may not share a bed at their B&B – that’s 13% who don’t care or know about the law. This rump of opposition will eventually fall away but until then it is right that they should be exposed.

But in the meantime I would like to see this story turned on its head. I think we need to get some of the amazing ‘leadership’ stories out of the closest. I know many straight owned guest houses who genuinely welcome their gay guests, and I know many straight people who love staying at gay owned guest houses. It is time to shine a light on these stories and relationships to show the 13% that they are in the minority and on the wrong side of history.

So please help me to urge mainstream travel editors to do something about it because I am feeling like a lone voice.


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