Rights hearing pits gay couple vs. B and B
The owners of a B.C. bed and breakfast will argue at a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing in Kelowna on Wednesday that their right to freedom of religion permitted them to turn away a homosexual couple.
According to the complaint filed with the tribunal, the gay couple, Shaun Eadie and Brian Thomas, booked a room in June 2009 at the Riverbend Bed and Breakfast in Grand Forks.
Owner Susan Molnar received the call and immediately told her husband and co-owner, Les Molnar, that the man making the booking had asked for just one bed, the complaint said.
Moments later, Les Molnar called Eadie back and asked if he and Thomas were a gay couple. Eadie said they were.
The complaint said that Molnar then cancelled the booking.
Eadie and Thomas later filed their complaint with the tribunal.
In an application to have the complaint dismissed, Les Molnar said "to allow a gay couple to share a bed in my Christian home would violate my Christian beliefs and would cause me and my wife great distress."
He said that to have allowed the booking would be "encouraging something which I believe to be wrong according to my religious beliefs and my understanding of scripture."
The Molnars also argued in their response that their charter rights to freedom of religion and association protected their decision not to do business with the gay couple.
The application to dismiss was turned down in a decision issued in March.
Neither couple has commented publicly about the case.
A spokesman for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association said the incident appears to be a straightforward case of discrimination based on sexual orientation, in contravention of the B.C. Human Rights Code.
"It doesn't matter whether you are running a home-based business or the Hotel Vancouver," said association executive director David Eby.
"As soon as someone opens to the public, they have to provide that service without discrimination, that is, without preventing people from accessing the service based on race, religion or sexual orientation."
Two days have been scheduled for the hearing.
Grand Forks is about 110 kilometres southeast of Kelowna.
With files from the CBC's Bob Keating