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Support for gay couple refused by Berkshire guest house

22 March 10 20:44

A gay couple turned away by a guest house owner because of their sexuality say they have received offers of free accommodation from other hoteliers.

Michael Black and John Morgan, from Brampton, Cambridgeshire, booked a double room at the Swiss B&B in Terry's Lane, Cookham, Berkshire.

But owner Susanne Wilkinson refused to let them stay and police logged their call as a "homophobic incident".

The middle-aged couple said people had offered to put them up for free.

Mr Black said: "It has been touching that we have had offers from complete strangers.

"It shows they feel strongly enough that what has happened to us is wrong to try to make amends, and that is terrific.

"What we want to achieve is for the owners of B&Bs all over the country to be aware that they are not above the law, and that there is a law that bans discrimination."

'Bad for B&Bs'

Under the Equality Act 2006 it is illegal to discriminate against people on the grounds of sexual orientation.

It is understood the pair have received offers of accommodation from the owner of a B&B in Llandudno, north Wales, and a woman and her male partner who invited the couple to stay in their own home.

Mr Black and Mr Morgan have also been contacted by a professor of law who offered advice.

B&B owner Steve Percy, who contacted the pair, said: "I thought it was bad for the industry, and it must have been terrible for them, so I wanted to help."

Mr Black and Mr Morgan were in the village of Cookham, near Maidenhead, to meet some friends for dinner and to see a local play.

Earlier, Mr Black told the BBC news it was the first time they "had experienced homophobia at first hand, despite being aged 56 and 62".

He said: "She apologised for turning us away. I asked for a refund of the deposit, which she gave me without quibble."

Ms Wilkinson admitted she did turn the couple away because it was against her policy to accommodate same sex couples.

A spokesman for Stonewall, which campaigns for equality and justice for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals, said turning someone away on the grounds of sexual orientation was illegal.

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