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B&B owners that banned gay couple 'must pay damages'

A Christian couple who refused to let two gay men stay in a double room at their bed and breakfast hotel in Cornwall must pay compensation, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull were told they must pay compensation to Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy in 2008 but a number of appeals and extensive legal wangling has meant the trial took more than five years to conclude.

The couple believe that sex outside of marriage is a sin and therefore did not want to let the gay men stay in a double room, as this is against the rules of their religion.

However, the Supreme Court did not believe that Mr and Mrs Bull's decision was legal and threw out their defence of moral obligation to God.

Speaking after the trial, Mr Bull said to the BBC: "We are deeply disappointed and saddened by the outcome. We are just ordinary Christians who believe in the importance of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

"Our B&B is not just our business, it's our home. All we have ever tried to do is live according to our own values, under our own roof."

The B&B owners' legal fees were paid for by the Christian Institute, which has a defence fund set aside for people looking to exercise what it believes are rights to religious freedoms.

Mike Judge, spokesperson for the Christian Institute, said that the judgement by the Supreme Court shows that "gay rights are almost untouchable" because of European judges.

Mr Judge added that the ruling is a "slap in the face" for Christians.

However, gay rights activist group Stonewall welcomed the Supreme Court's findings and said gay consumers deserve the same rights as straight people.

A statement released by the group also condemned the mindset that Christian people should focus on curtailing the rights of people who don't identify as heterosexual and argued these efforts should be focused on reducing global poverty.

By Francesca Witney