Graeme Archer on the B&B Ruling

Graeme Archer on the B&B Ruling

As always, Graeme is challenging and insightful.

The B&B case. So we have now proven that a quango can criminalise bed and breakfast owners who don’t want gay people to stay in their property (please, no quibbling about the exact form of words the Bulls would use: this is what it boils down to). I’m in the target identity bucket which the Left courts with such legislation (and you’re in the opposite bucket if your religion leads you to prefer us not to stay). Whose life is better as a result? Obviously not religious bed and breakfast owners. But is mine? No of course it isn’t. I’d rather sleep in a ditch than spend a night in the home of people who dislike me. All the case has done is to harden the identities of both Christians and gay people and forced onto both of us an armour which I, for one, would prefer not to be encumbered with. I detest the legislation that was used against the Bulls: but now, in the backs of the minds of the majority of my fellow citizens, is the germ of an idea that all gay people are hell-bent on transforming every public and private sphere into our image. Quite what the impact of the law will be on those bouncers who stand outside the night club on Marine Parade in Brighton, and ask potential entrants: Do you know this is a gay venue? will be, I’m not sure. Presumably it will have to stop, and young gay Brightonians will just have to put up with sharing their space with people who hate them. We had a system of unwritten rules, and they worked. Now we have case law that forces people to take sides and stop using their common sense. I cannot call this ‘progress’.


31 Comments on “Graeme Archer on the B&B Ruling

  1. young gay Brightonians will just have to put up with sharing their space with people who hate them

    I really dislike this kind of rhetoric, the kind which has simply assumed that a disagreement over one aspect of a person's lifestyle / actions / desires equals hating the person. Indeed, in his original post he writes on Islamophobia:

    we must be permitted to discuss what happens to a borough when it becomes mostly Muslim, and we must be able to say, for example, I do not like to see women wearing burquas without being labelled intolerant

    Good for the goose…

    • I too felt indignant when I read that remark. I don't know anybody at all who hates gay people, but I know plenty who do not like homosexual practice with its attendant ills. Having had a dear friend and colleague who died of AIDS and knowing several others who are being kept alive on antiretroviral medication, I would not want to facilitate behaviour which causes that under my roof. If this is considered by some to be 'hatred', well, there's nothing I can do about that.

      I have read the Bulls' story and there is no bitterness or rancor, even though it is likely they will be bankrupted. There does not even appear to be any animosity towards the authors of their predicament. So where hatred comes into it I do not know.

      But he is right, this is forcing everyone into corners and I know a lot of people are now a lot less tolerant than they were before all this, and I suspect that 'homophobia' will increase rather than decrease. However, Christians are probably not going to try knocking on the doors of 'gay only' hotels demanding admittance, so we may not get a test case here.

      • Jill : by that logic, are you ok with gays having saf(er) sex under your roof? Conflating acceptance of homosexuality per se with AIDSy indulgence is pretty dehumanising if not strictly 'phobic'.

        The Bull's story is exactly that. The 'Christian' Institute making sure that the Bulls are portrayed as old-dears beset by evil gays, which is as pathetically theatrical as it is irrelevant.

        More broadly, whilst a religious objection to homosexual practice need not lead to actual bigotry and persecution of gay people, I don't think it could be denied that, if one examines the historical record, it usually has. Nobody would today seek to argue that 'religious' antisemitism is ok, but many still think that Christian anti-gay ideology should be treated as if it would not of course lead to prejudice and persecution. Why?

      • O Jill…. not sure exactly how you could "facilitate behaviour which causes that" under your roof – merely giving a couple a double bed (or not) does not guarantee or prevent what they might do. Out of interest, do you let people smoke in your home? Would you let a lesbian couple share a bed?

        Also, how do you know that "it is likely [the Bulls] will be bankrupted"? I thought that their case was being funded, at least partially, by the Christian Institute, and that they'd received donations from concerned Christians to help with their costs?

        I think you (and Graeme) have a bit more of a point in the last paragraph, in that yet more visible, public conflict between Christians and gay people doesn't of itself help much. I don't think it's inevitable that homophobia (please could we lose the inverted commas?) will increase, but it's possible. To take things in a slightly different direction though: one key reason I think that more public conflict isn't helpful, is that all of us onlookers get fascinated by the conflict and see things in those terms. Thus dazzled, we lose sight of the fact that at root this is not a conflict of rights, but a disagreement over a question of truth – that disagreement comes prior to the conflict of rights.

        in friendship, Blair

        • Oh come off it, Blair, that old line ‘just-because-I’m-holding-a-lighted-cigarette-it-doesn’t-mean-I-am-smoking’ (under the no smoking sign) is getting a bit wearisome. (No, I don’t like smoking in my home, and thankfully my visitors respect this wish.)

          Amazing as you might find it, there are still plenty of people, especially those with children, who would like to be free from the likelihood of witnessing gay men entering a double bedroom. Most straight males would recoil with horror from sharing a double bed, so it doesn’t take a big stretch of the imagination. I think in the interests of civil liberty they should be able to avoid such possibilities.

          You should perhaps read up a bit more about the Bulls – how they are now being targeted with further bookings from gay couples, along with abusive phone calls, and are in danger of losing their home if the eventual judgment goes against them.

          What I am noticing, especially as we now have a second B&B gay sting from Messrs Black and Morgan, is that commenters everywhere, even pro-homosexualists, are getting alarmed at this aggressive kicking of harmless and hitherto law-abiding people. ‘Gay mafia’ is becoming a frequently used phrase. Many are realising that somewhere along the line this new legislation is likely to be turned against them. It is fundamental freedom that is at stake. You might be interested to read the following from gay Tory activist Robert Leitch. Good for him.
          “The reaction to this somewhat traditional yet harmless policy has been remarkable.
          “Mr and Mrs Bull have been tagged as homophobes, taken to court, forced to justify their literal interpretation of the Bible, told by the Judge involved that their views are out of date and, finally, given a punishment which will place significant strain upon their business’ finances.
          “In the end, the penalty for holding a diverse viewpoint has been extreme.”
          He added: “I am not a Christian. I do not hold any such stringent views about married or unmarried couples.
          “Yet, as an openly gay man in a happy, long-term relationship, it infuriates me when equality groups tell me that cases such as the above should be celebrated as victories for the ‘homosexual community’.
          “Sorry, but I refuse to be confined to any such sub-section of society.”

          • Hi folks,

            This is great, vigorous and challenging conversation helping us to get right to the heart of how people feel and how this is affecting real lives. As long as we all keep it civil I'm happy to keep this thread going. Let's engage with the issues raised, avoid ad hominem and see whether we can model robust but corteous debate and disagreement.

            Have to say, I agree with Jill 100% on how the Bulls are now being hounded by activists. It is disgraceful and does those in the revisionist cause who can't condemn it no help at all.

            • Was I rude? A little exasperated, perhaps, but I certainly had no intention of insulting anybody. I apologise if it came over that way.

              Do note, by the way, that the second half of my post is quoting somebody else, a gay man, and a Tory to boot!

            • Isn't conflating those who, amongst other objectionable behaviour, leave abusive phonecalls with those who believe in gay equality ad hom? 'Gay mafia' (unless being used to denouce homeshanigans in organised crime families derived from Sicily) is about a fair,accurate and objective a term as 'moneygrabbing Jews'.

              Jill, I think many a gay could – if they were of a mind to overlook your invocation of cliched nonsense – respond with a 'If only,dear' at the idea that entering a double bedroom necessarily leads to anal sex. Serious questioning : are you unaware that most in the gay community *overwhelming* condemn the sort of behaviour that ultimately leads to AIDS (i.e. unprotected anal sex, or 'barebacking')?

              I do hope you're not using the Daily Heil or The 'Christian' Insitute as your source on the Bulls, given that the latter get their cases thrown out of court for a reason, and the former only care about whipping up alarmist rhetoric (and Nice-Christians-Persecuted-By-Evil-Gays is almost as big a seller as their Aslyum-Seekers-Want-to-Rape-Your-Kids-And-Damage-Your-Property's-Value 'journalism')

              Children also, as I'm sure you'd agree, shouldn't be exposed to the implication of heterosexual. fornication. So why not, using your 'logic' above, criminalise unmarried heterosexual couples who want to share a double room?

          • "Wherever there's a lynching, the devil will be there:
            a witch or an apostle, the devil doesn't care"
            (Sydney Carter)


            it does frustrate me that you don't engage with the majority of what I said. You didn't answer my question about two women sharing a bed – your words about "homosexual practice" from both your posts are actually aimed solely at gay men. Maybe not that important a point, though as a thought-experiment, how would people's responses to this case differ, I wonder, if the couple involved were 2 women? (Perhaps not that much….? a question, anyway…)

            There may indeed be plenty of people who "who would like to be free from the likelihood of witnessing gay men entering a double bedroom", but no-one's being forced to, even guest house owners who let 2 men share a double room. Why should the "horror" of such people determine or guide the law, if that's what you're implying?

            …OK, I'm struggling a little to carry on here – am writing in a rather self-righteous tone myself, which is no help. Am doing what I criticise in others again…

            in friendship, Blair

        • If I may interject here, it strikes me as unlikely that the Bulls will be bankrupted because of the judgement. Because the guesthouse is closed between Christmas and Easter it is early days for them to be seeing any results from the adverse publicity of the judgement yet. And second, when the gay couple were refused a double-bedded room they could not be offered a twin bedded room because there was non available, even though it is reported that it would have been offered; this suggests financial success if they were so obviously filling their rooms. They have been funning the guesthouse wince the 1980s and have a mortgage still. It is incredible that two people in their 70s should have a mortgage of 2000+ pm and clearly that is worrying that some bank should allow that without ascertaining that the guesthouse earnings could not comfortably service it. What seems plain is that this case has nothing to do with the financial risks they face. In any case my guess is that the case would not hurt them. Gay people may decide not to book (even though Mrs Bull says she was inundated with gay bookings!) but surely those Christians who share their worldview of a homo-less environment would step up to the plate…….or not? So I am less than convinced by Jill's fears on behalf of the Bulls. In the end all this may help them get over their financial problems.

          • You're wrong Tom. They have been subject to an incessant series of calls from same-sex couples wanting to book rooms. This campaign is very clearly designed to drive them out of business by threatening a law case for every booking they turn down.

              • Mrs Bull has said that she has received numerous phone calls trying to book rooms from same-sex couples. She is answering her phone because her husband is critically ill and in hospital.

                Don't try and defend this Tom – the way they are now being treated is disgraceful.

                • I certainly don't defend disgraceful treatment of anybody. It is horrible if Peter and Hazelmary are being victimised by very mean and nasty people, but do you really think there is a concerted effort to put them out of business rather than just mindless crowing over their predicament? I have suggested on another site that if she were being telephoned with phoney bookings surely it is not beyond someone to lend her a mobile phone (The CI have already spent 45k on defending the case so what's a mobile going to add to that?). It was said that if people are really determined they can get hold of a mobile number (leaks from the hospital? a mole at her church?) but are we reaching a situation where the Bulls will need police protection? Sounds the stuff of a Daily Mail oped. I don't doubt for a moment that the Bulls are a sweet old couple who have been badly advised and used by people – and I don't just mean by the gays – to further an agenda. If I had brought the case against the Bulls, and now knowing their straitened circumstances, I would waive the damages – and perhaps that's what the two men will do. But I do think it was important to bring the case – and I think you do – to get a clear ruling and to clarify when a house is a home and when it is a business. That's why I support the Bulls' appeal – though I feel sorry for them for the extra uncertainty it will leave them in. Let's hope the appeal will happen mercifully swiftly.

                  Have a look at Symon Hill today on Ekklesia. I thought it fair and balanced.

                  • In contrast to fair and balance, here is The 'Christian' Institute's version of events:

                    Ironic that Mrs Bull seems to think telling someone that they're going to Hell ought to be criminalised (gay people tend to be on the receiving end of such rhetoric). Would *any* 'gay lobby', such as Stonewall, or those sympathetic to them, want to defend & justify harassment and obscene, threatening phone-calls? The obvious answer (evidenced in this comment thread) is 'no'. Yet The 'Christian' Institute go with the demonising headline : "Homosexuals Try to Crush B & B". A story that used 'Asian' or 'black' or 'Jews' in the way that the CI use homosexual would rightly be condemned as bigoted. Yet we're supposed to take the CI's 'journalism' seriously?

                    • Well I for one don't, Cerebusboy. I find it hard to understand their mentality because I imagine they think they will be judged by the 6th commandment eventually.

                    • Just to play devil's advocate for a mo, perhaps you could illustrate which bit of the opening paragraph of the CI piece is incorrect?

                      Homosexual couples have besieged a Christian-run guesthouse with demands for double rooms, seemingly in a bid to destroy the business.

                    • Butting in Peter: can't be certain about these as there doesn't appear to be a source other than the CI (or am I wrong in that?), but how about the word "besieged" for a start? The CI piece gives no numbers. And "seemingly in a bid to destroy the business" – how does the CI know the minds / hearts of the idiots making these calls?

                      Will comment more further up the thread ;)

                      in friendship, Blair

                    • Well, I was citing the story's *headline* so I'm not sure why I'm being asked to defend its opening paragraph (unless you think that headlines get a 'free pass' as they need to whip up attention by their nature? Never had you down as a Sun fan! ;-)). "Christians Opposed to Homosexual Practise Support Death Penalty for Gay Ugandas" would be as technically accurate [as SOME of group x do indeed do/believe objectionable y] – (but fundamentally misleading) as "Homosexuals Try to Crush Christian B & B". It is demonising homosexuals *per se* as the sort of people who would do such things, belligerently whipping up us v them sentiments,and is comparable to horrendously pernicious and misleading statements (e.g.) like "Muslims Blow Up Schools" or "Catholic Priests Rape Children". And that's aside from the fact that 'homosexual' is (as you know) a pejoratively medicalising term that is closer (as analogy) to 'negro' (or worse) than it is to that 'black' or 'african-american' that one would expect to find in civilised,accurate and constructive discourse.

                      The 'C'I's stories on the Scottish Episcopal Church are full of lies too, but I'm not necessarily arguing that every single paragraph in said stories is full of clear errors.So I'm not sure that your devil's advocate position is much of a defence of the CI in any case.

                    • And if I may add my tuppence worth to the other excellent responses from Blair, Cerebusboy and Alathia, – and acting as devil's advocate for a mo :-) – even if Mrs Bull were inundated (whatever that means) by calls who's to say these were from genuine 'homosexuals'? How would Hazelmary know – from the content of the message, the sheer nastiness of what was said (gays can be such bitches) or the camp way of speaking? Perhaps it's more sinister than that and a cabal of reporters from the Sun or the Mail or – God Forbid – from the CI itself made faux-gay phone calls……. And on and on. As Alathia says it's about demonising; when you demonise a whole section of people your worst nighmares come back to haunt you.

                      Sorry if I have made this a bit dramatic but I hope you see the point.

                    • Hi guys,

                      I understand the point entirely how the use of "Homosexuals" in the title is attempting a group smear when it is actually only a few people who are abusing the Bulls. What is also clear though is that these phone calls ARE happening and the Bulls ARE now being systematically intimidated.

                    • This is where care is needed. The CI is not a bastion of balanced reporting. I receive its news letter and occasionally attend things it organises as part of my own academic research and although I persevere to remain ‘unmoved’ at these, I find the polemic that the CI strives to create reminds me more (ironically) of Gal 5: 20, (re: factions, slander and malice) than Matt 5: 38-49… But then again, the latter are hardly verses the CI, or the Bulls are going to be interested in, when there is Lev: 18: 22 and the less costly morality it (at one time at least) affords your heterosexual Christian… Or so it seems, when a story is reported in this manner.

                      “Homosexuals try to crush Christian B&B” – I am sure the poor guy who was arrested, vilified in the national media and then released without charge for the murder of the Bristol landscape architect, received hate mail, crank calls and goodness know what until another person was arrested. That is what happens when you are in the news. The fact the CI is happy to use the ‘homosexuals’ tag line as if ‘homosexuals’ are a well organised network of conspirators, with one will, intent on one purpose, reminds me of the kind of headlines you might find concerning a Jewish owned business involved in litigation or the like, in Berlin circa 1935.

                      Hence the question you have to ask – and it is a question of particular relevance to Christians, is ‘What is the intention of the CI in this?’ Is it merely to protect the rights of individuals to practice their religion freely? If so then why the overt use of emotive language and tabloid styling of ‘folk devils’? Is this Christian, this bias towards innuendo and insinuation? Is there, in many of the ‘News’ articles on the CI website, evidence of balanced reporting? Is there any hint of consideration of another view – Matt 5: 38-49 for example? It seems to me that the intention of the CI is to breed hatred and discord and while I have some sympathy for the Bulls, their position on ‘twin rooms’ and ‘double rooms’ is so balmy, when you consider they are providing accommodation as a secular business, to mainly secular paying customers, that I can’t help think common sense prevailed and now they should just ‘move-on’. I have a knife wound scar on my right hand from when I worked at an Evangelical night shelter – it happened, I could have been killed, but I wasn’t and those of us involved, made a point of visiting the man who tried to attack us after he was locked up, to demonstrate Christian forgiveness. In fact several years later I bumped into him on a bus and we cheerfully greeted each other.

                      The real issue, I believe, is that a large number of Christians have a yearning for respectability and have become overly bound up with identity and have forgotten their purpose! Suffering, rejection, being hated are part of the prophetic witness of Christianity; as is demonstrating forgiveness for one’s enemies – they are almost sacramental: symbols in time and space of the coming of the Kingdom. Yet here we see Christians striving for ‘respectability’ – for honour, even. Well, I am not a theologian, I am an agnostic social scientist. But really, there needs to be a taking stock of what is happening when such cases come to light and how the Christian media and particularly Christian pressure groups present these cases.

                    • P.S Sorry, in editing down the piece above I deleted my condemnation of those harassing Mrs Bull. Obviously no right minded can do anything but condemn such harassment. But to say ‘Homosexuals try to crush etc.’ is a little like saying ‘fathers are the main sexual abusers of children’. This is of course true – fathers are the main sexual abusers of children. But we don’t report this in the papers, because we have the common sense to know that only a tiny minority of fathers abuse their children. Hopefully the same common sense can be transferred to the headline “Homosexuals try to crush Christian B&B”. Yes, at present poor Mrs Bull is probably inundated with calls and e-mails from cranks and nasty individuals who just happen to also be homosexual… But that doesn’t mean “Homosexuals try to crush Christian B&B”.

                      Surely it is up to Christians to ensure there is some attempt at a balanced reporting? “Homosexuals try to crush Christian B&B” is a ‘half-truth’ and as such I think we can assume the intention (as is the case with much half truth) is to deceive and divide and seems lacking in wisdom!

                      “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3: 17

                      “Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them.” Matt 7:20

                      Emm… There’s food for thought…

  2. "…in the backs of the minds of the majority of my fellow citizens, is the germ of an idea that all gay people are hell-bent on transforming every public and private sphere into our image. …"

    Really? Either Graeme's has telepathic abilities to read the backs of minds of the populace or he is a bit delusional. I'm not telepathic, but I think most people are not B&B owners. And I suspect most business owners are savvy enough to know that discrimination is bad business. Treating customers fairly regardless of their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or marital status is good business.

    "…We had a system of unwritten rules, and they worked. Now we have case law that forces people to take sides and stop using their common sense. I cannot call this ‘progress’."

    Wow. This statement could have easily been written by a stereotypical racist in the segregated US which often defends discrimination as 'common sense'. The unwritten rules didn't work for the gay couple that made reservations at the B&B. Being acclimated to discrimination doesn't mean it works.

    More importantly, why are the rules unwritten? Why didn't the B&B owners openly and proudly announce their discriminatory policy against gay couples and unmarried straight couples? Certainly the gay couple would have preferred to have made reservations elsewhere had the B&B owners been more forthright.

    If the case law (I thought the ruling was a local decision and did not establish legal precedent), does eventually lead to gay mens clubs and gay B&Bs opening their doors to religious conservatives thank I certainly welcome it.

  3. Hi Peter and all,

    like other commenters here I wasn't that impressed either, despite a lot of agreement with Graeme on ConservativeHome (much of which sounded rather unthinking).

    "So we have now proven that a quango can criminalise bed and breakfast owners who don’t want gay people to stay in their property (please, no quibbling about the exact form of words the Bulls would use: this is what it boils down to)" – starting with factual errors isn't a great opening… where does "a quango" come from? I thought the case was brought under the 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations? Next, I'm surprised you (Peter) didn't take GA to task for saying the Bulls "don't want gay people to stay in their property". How does he know? If I'm remembering rightly several reports (and the judgment in the case?) noted that the Bulls would have allowed Messrs Hall and Preddy a twin bedded room, had there been one available. Similarly, GA later says he would "rather sleep in a ditch than spend a night in the home of people who dislike me", but again, where is the evidence that the Bulls dislike gay people in general?

    He might have half a point with the bit near the end about gay clubs being unable to continue to have a 'gay only' door policy, but even that doesn't make it inevitable that "young gay Brightonians" will be sharing space with people who hate them.

    in friendship, Blair

  4. I am finding this thread too confusing with new items popping up all over the place. Also it has become a gay blog, which it seems to me is the fate of all Christian blogs which dare to challenge the perception that everything gay must be good.

    This whole issue is a simple one of personal liberty, and the complicated knots and ‘what about if’ scenarios that are being cooked up illustrate all too plainly how equality legislation has made a simple issue difficult. If people don’t want to facilitate unbiblical acts, or for that matter would turn away couples with dogs, children, or even a pentangle, a couple of live chickens and a sharp knife, then I think they should be free to do so. Or do we now anticipate lawsuits on those fronts?

    The fact that some here are not appalled at the deeply offensive bullying treatment meted out to the Bulls speaks volumes.

    • Hi Jill,

      Certainly not becoming a "gay blog". The balance of commentators actually tends to be about 50/50 conservative/revisionist which, if handled properly, tends to good robust debate and the opportunity for both sides to be challenged.

      The fact that some here are not appalled at the deeply offensive bullying treatment meted out to the Bulls speaks volumes.


      • Well congratulations for keeping it sane, Peter. I was going to add a rider to the effect that it could quickly become a gay atheist blog, which has been the fate of some, but then I remembered that you are an old hand at this. :)

    • Nobody here is defending bullying, Jill. They are pointing out that the CI, to riot in understatement, does not exactly have a record of impeccable journalistic veracity. Does it not also speak volumes that you don't see any offence in accusing 'Homosexuals' *per se* of characteristically offensive behaviour?

      Loling at the 'gay blog' bit. I can't recall having to declare a sexual preference for signing up here, and , for the record, must straight people of my acquaintance are pretty much live and let live when it comes to gays. I actually, worried about spending too much time online, removed all blogs from my feeder except: Piskie Provost of a Glasgow Cathedral Kelvin's (; Changing Attitude; my pastor Gadgetvicar (who isn't actually a vicar but nevermind…;-)) ; Andrew Collins (brilliant journalist, former editor of Q, and famed podcaster) and , of course, this one. So, in terms of the Christian blogs, there's an exact 50/50 liberal/conservative blogs split. It is very much to Peter's credit that this blog allows for robust yet constructive debate, although I must say that its excellence *does* throw into sharp relief the gutter ethics, intellectual fallacy bingo and Mickey Mouse pseudo-discourse of so much else on the evangementalist side (not least The 'Christian' Institute). I don't doubt that Peter might have to spend time weeding out abusive comments from the spam filter (which of course liberal bloggers have to do to), but it is a good thing than serious liberal posters are attracted to hang out here (and unfortunate that you seem to demonise as trolls all who disagree with you, Jill)

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