The court was asked ‘Is it lawful for a Christian hotel keeper, who sincerely believes that sexual relations outside marriage are sinful, to refuse a double-bedded room to a same sex couple?’ The defendants (Mr and Mrs Bull) appealed against a finding that their actions were unlawful.
Held: The appeal failed. By a majority, the court considered the action to be direct discrimination, but Neuberger and Hughes JJS thought it indirect discrimination. Civil partnership was indistinguishable from the status of marriage in United Kingdom law. When denying a double bed to the claimants which they would have given to a heterosexual married couple the defendants were not applying the criterion that they were unmarried, but were applying a criterion which was indistinguishable from sexual orientation.
‘Regard can also be had to the purpose of the Regulations, not as an aid to construction but in order to understand the problems they were meant to solve and how they proposed to solve them. The purpose was to secure that people of homosexual orientation were treated equally with people of heterosexual orientation by those in the business of supplying goods, facilities and services. Parliament was very well aware that there were deeply held religious objections to what was being proposed and careful consideration had been given to how best to accommodate these within the overall purpose. For the reasons explained in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Regulations, Parliament did not insert a conscientious objection clause for the protection of individuals who held such beliefs. Instead, it provided, in regulation 14, a carefully tailored exemption for religious organisations and ministers of religion from the prohibition of both direct and indirect discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. This strongly suggests that the purpose of the Regulations was to go no further than this in catering for religious objections.’
Orse – Preddy v Bull
Lord Neuberger, President, Lady Hale, Deputy President, Lord Kerr, Lord Hughes, Lord Toulson
 UKSC 73,  Eq LR 76,  WLR(D) 454, 36 BHRC 190,  1 All ER 919,  HRLR 4,  1 WLR 3741, UKSC 2012/0065
Bailii, WLRD, Bailii Summary, SC Summary, SC
Council Directive 2000/78/EC, Equality Act 2010
England and Wales
At County Court – Hall and Another v Bull and Another Misc 4-Jan-2011
(Bristol County Court) The claimants, homosexual partners in a civil partnership, sought damages after being refused a stay at the bed and breakfast hotel operated by the defendants, who said that this was their home, and that they were committed . .
Appeal from – Bull and Bull v Hall and Preddy CA 10-Feb-2012
The appellants owned a guesthouse. They appealed from being found in breach of the Regulations. They had declined to honour a booking by the respondents of a room upon learning that they were a homosexual couple. The appellants had said that they . .
Cited – James v Eastleigh Borough Council HL 14-Jun-1990
Result Decides Dscrimination not Motive
The Council had allowed free entry to its swimming pools to those of pensionable age (ie women of 60 and men of 65). A 61 year old man successfully complained of sexual discrimination.
Held: The 1975 Act directly discriminated between men and . .
Cited – Schnorbus v Land Hessen ECJ 7-Dec-2000
ECJ Equal treatment for men and women – Rules on access to practical legal training in Land Hesse – Priority for applicants who have completed military or civilian service
Jacobs AG said: ‘The discrimination . .
Cited – Bressol and Others, Chaverot and Others v Gouvernement de la Communaute francaise ECJ 25-Jun-2009
ECJ Opinion – Free Movement of Persons – Higher education Public health Numerus clausus Residence requirement Equal treatment Principle of non’discrimination Justifications
Sharpston AG said: ‘I take there . .
Cited – Maruko v Versorgungsanstalt der deutschen Buhnen ECJ 1-Apr-2008
ECJ Grand Chamber – Equal treatment in employment and occupation – Directive 2000/78/EC – Survivors’ benefits under a compulsory occupational pensions scheme Concept of ‘pay’ – Refusal because the persons . .
Cited – Patmalniece v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions CA 25-Jun-2009
The appellant challenged the refusal of the grant to her of state pension credit.
Held: Her appeal failed. . .
Cited – Rodriguez v Minister of Housing of The Government and Another PC 14-Dec-2009
Gibraltar – The claimant challenged a public housing allocation policy which gave preference to married couples and parents of children, excluding same sex and infertile couples.
Held: The aim of discouraging homosexual relationships is . .
Cited – E, Regina (on The Application of) v Governing Body of JFS and Another SC 16-Dec-2009
E complained that his exclusion from admission to the school had been racially discriminatory. The school applied an Orthodox Jewish religious test which did not count him as Jewish because of his family history.
Held: The school’s appeal . .
Cited – Patmalniece v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions SC 16-Mar-2011
The claimant challenged as incompatible with EU law, the Regulations which restricted the entitlement to state pension credit to those entitled to reside in the UK.
Held: The appeal failed (Majority). The conditions imposed by the Regulations . .
Cited – Black and Another v Wilkinson CA 9-Jul-2013
The defendant appealed against a finding that he had so operated his bed and breakfast facility as to infringe the claimant’s rights under the 2007 regulations, by not providing accomodation for the claimant a homosexual couple.
Held: Applying . .
Cited – Bayatyan v Armenia ECHR 7-Jul-2011
(Grand Chamber) The applicant was a practising Jehovah’s Witness and a conscientious objector. He said that his conviction for refusing to serve in the army had violated his right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. That complaint had . .
Cited – National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality v Minister of Justice 1999
South African Constitutional Court – Sachs J said: ‘While recognising the unique worth of each person, the Constitution does not presuppose that a holder of rights is an isolated, lonely and abstract figure possessing a disembodied and socially . .
Cited – Smith and Chymyshyn v Knights of Columbus and others 2005
British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal – Alesbian couple had hired a hall owned by the Roman Catholic Church and let out on its behalf by the Knights in order to hold a reception after their marriage. The hall was available for public hire and they . .
Cited – Eweida And Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 15-Jan-2013
The named claimant had been employed by British Airways. She was a committed Christian and wished to wear a small crucifix on a chain around her neck. This breached the then dress code and she was dismissed. Her appeals had failed. Other claimants . .
Cited – Eadie and Thomas v Riverbend Bed and Breakfast and others (No 2) 2012
British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal – a gay couple had reserved a room in bed and breakfast accommodation offered by a Christian couple in their own home, but when the husband learned that the couple were gay, the booking was cancelled.
Cited – Taiwo and Another v Olaigbe and Others SC 22-Jun-2016
The claimants had been brought here illegally to act as servants for the defendants. They were taken advantage of and abused. They made several claims, but now appealed against rejection of their claims for discrimination. The court was asked . .
Cited – Essop and Others v Home Office (UK Border Agency) SC 5-Apr-2017
The appellants alleged indirect race and belief discrimination in the conditions of their employment by the respondent. Essop came as lead claimant challenging the tests used for promotion. Statistics showed lower pass rates for BME candidates, but . .
Cited – Coll, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice SC 24-May-2017
The appellant female prisoner asserted that the much smaller number of probation and bail hostels provided for women prisoners when released on licence was discriminatory in leaving greater numbers of women far removed from their families.
Cited – Walker v Innospec Ltd and Others SC 12-Jul-2017
The claimant appealed against refusal of his employer’s pension scheme trustees to include as a recipient of any death benefit his male civil partner.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The salary paid to Mr Walker throughout his working life was . .
Cited – Lee v Ashers Baking Company Ltd and Others SC 10-Oct-2018
(Northern Ireland) The bakers held strong traditional Christian beliefs as to the nature of marriage. A staff member accepted an order for a cake emblazoned with a pro gay statement. The owners rejected the order and returned the fee. They now . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 06 September 2021; Ref: scu.518468