The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has fined the owners of a now-closed bed and breakfast $4,500 for refusing to grant a gay couple a reservation in 2009 after learning of their sexual orientation, the Vancouver Sun reports.
Les and Susan Molnar, the former owners of the Riverbend B&B, cited religious reasons for why they wouldn't agree to rent a room to Shaun Eadie and Brian Thomas, who live in Vancouver.
The Molnars tried to argue that the B&B was part of their home, saying they pray there and feel responsible for the behavior of their guests.
But Enid Marion, a member of the tribunal, saw things differently. According to the Boundary Sentinel, the tribunal's decision said the following:
The Riverbend was not operated by a Church or religious organization. While the business was operated by individuals with sincere religious beliefs respecting same-sex couples, and out of a portion of their personal residence, it was still a commercial activity. It was the Molnars’ personal and voluntary choice to start up a business in their personal residence. In this respect, the Molnars were not compelled by the state to act in a manner inconsistent with their personal religious views.
The gay couple told CBC news that they were happy with the ruling.
"Sometimes you have to stick your neck out, and we stuck our necks out and we feel good and vindicated that we did for the benefit of people coming behind us," Thomas told the news outlet.
This isn't the first time a B&B owner's religious beliefs spilled over into their business practices and was deemed discriminatory. In February, a Christian couple running a bed and breakfast in Cornwall was ordered them to pay a gay couple £3,600, or about $5,600, for refusing them service, the Guardian reported. That couple argued that they wouldn't permit any unmarried couple to stay at their property -- regardless of sexual orientation -- because they believe pre-marital sex to be a sin.
But the author of the judgement for the Equality and Human Right's Commission, which issued the ruling, found that the B&B owners weren't being prohibited from exercising their religious beliefs.
"They are merely prohibited from so doing in the commercial context they have chosen," she wrote.
The EHRC's legal director further explained, saying, "When offering a service, people cannot use their beliefs – religious or otherwise – to discriminate against others."
[H/T The Consumerist]
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