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Court: Religious rights as important as 'gay' rights

In a stunning case in the United Kingdom, an appellate court has concluded in a dispute over homosexuals’ access to a bed-and-breakfast run by Christians that religious rights are as valid as “gay” rights.

The opinion comes in a case against the Swiss Bed and Breakfast in Cookham, Berkshire. The owner, Susanne Wilkinson, was ordered earlier to pay a homosexual duo, Michael Black and John Morgan, about $6,000 in damages for denying them permission to use a bedroom.

Nevertheless, the determination that religious rights are as valid as “gay” rights was significant, according to the Christian Institute.

“There is hope for Christian-owned bed and breakfasts that restrict double rooms to married couples only,” the organization reported.

“Although the B&B at the center of the case lost its appeal, the court said its marriage policy should not be regarded as ‘direct discrimination’ against same sex couples,” the organization reported. “The Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson said in his ruling that he would prefer to treat such a policy as indirect discrimination, which can be lawful if the policy is justified.”

According to the Christian Institute, Dyson’s comments “are a step in the right direction for the civil liberty of people to act upon their sincere beliefs about marriage.”

The issue has arisen in the United States, where a photographer in New Mexico was penalized by the state in a case still under appeal for refusing to provide service to two lesbians who wanted a “marriage” ceremony memorialized. Bakers in Washington and Colorado have refused to provide services for same-sex marriages.

In each case, the business owners’ have refused to compromise their deeply held religious faith to the homosexual-rights agenda.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court gave a boost to homosexual activists in two rulings on same-sex marriage.

In the U.K., the movement is several years ahead of the U.S., which makes the British appellate court’s determination significant.

The court said while religious rights are of equal importance to sexual-orientation rights, in this case it had not been shown that converting the Christian business to single-bed accommodations would have caused it to fail.

The statement suggests strongly that given the right circumstances, a “married couples only” policy for such businesses could be legally affirmed, said analysts.

“I am pleased that there is hope for people like me who believe in marriage,” Wilkinson said in a statement to the Christian Institute. “I am pleased that in his ruling Lord Dyson … has stated that in his opinion mine ought not to be a case of direct discrimination. I am also encouraged that the three presiding High Court judges have affirmed that the human right of religious belief is intrinsically as important as that of homosexual orientation and that neither right in principle trumps the other.”

Mike Judge, a spokesman for the Christian Institute, which defends the civil liberties of Christians and supported Wilkinson’s appeal, said, “For the first time in cases like these, the court has properly engaged in arguments of justification, and attempted to balance religious rights and sexual orientation rights.”

The U.K. has been littered with cases in recent years in which the rights of Christians have been trampled by the politically correct steamroller of sexual orientation, the Christian Institute said, with more scheduled before the nation’s courts in coming months.

The opinion said: “It is clearly established that, as a matter of general principle, the right of a homosexual not to suffer discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is an important human right, and the freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief under article 9(1) is also an important human right. … Neither is intrinsically more important that the other. Neither in principle trumps the other.”

Susanne Wilkinson and her husband, Mike, had explained their family members live their Christian life “not just on a Sunday in church, but in every area of my life – as Jesus expects from his followers.”

Susanne Wilkinson said all she was trying to do was live as a Christian.

“It’s quite wrong to punish me for that, especially after enduring over two years of vile abuse and threats,” she said.

Wilkinson and her husband say they have received “hundreds of emails an hour” and threatening phone threats and texts because of their faith.

Mike Wilkinson said, “One was hand-delivered and handwritten in capitals and said, ‘I am coming to burn your house down.'”