POLITICS

Gay couple wins human rights battle after reservation cancelled at Christian B&B

07/18/2012 02:39 EDT | Updated 09/17/2012 05:12 EDT
GRAND FORKS, B.C. - The owners of a now-closed bed and breakfast in southern British Columbia must pay more than $4,000 for refusing a room to a homosexual couple and causing them to suffer from humiliation.

Brian Thomas and Shaun Eadie had booked a room at the Riverbend Bed and Breakfast in Grand Forks, about 500 kilometres east of Vancouver, back in June 2009.

But their reservation was cancelled shortly after the establishment's owners Susan and Les Molnar realized the two men were a gay couple.

Eadie testified that the cancellation felt like a "slap in the face," and that it made him feel like a second-class citizen.

Les Molnar admitted to telling the couple that "it was not going to work out" after he confirmed their sexual relations.

The business did not have an official policy against gay people. But Molnars said that lifestyle is contrary to their Christian beliefs and unacceptable in the business they operated as a ministry, with some profits going to the local Mennonite church.

Tribunal member Enid Marion said in her ruling that she accepts the Molnars have firm convictions.

"The Molnars sincerely believe that to allow a same-sex couple to stay in a single bed in their home would harm their relationship with the Lord," she said. "They would not rent a room in their home for a purpose that conflicted with, or was contrary to, their personal religious beliefs."

However, Riverbend was run out of a portion of the Molnars' home, and constituted a commercial activity subject to laws preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation, said Marion.

Thomas and Eadie each claimed $2,500 dollars for loss of self-respect.

The tribunal instead ordered the Molnars to pay each man $1,500, as well as travel expenses and wages lost while they attended last year's two day hearing in Kelowna, B.C.