B&B’s should be allowed to turn away gay couples because of their sexuality, a leading Conservative has said.
Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said large hotels should not be allowed to discriminate against homosexuals, but he suggested family run B&B’s should have the right to decide who stays in their home and not accept gay couples.
His comments were recorded in a meeting of the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank. Such a change would be a step backwards from the Equality Act 2006 that outlaws discrimination on goods and services on the grounds of sexual orientation.
“I think we need to allow people to have their own consciences. I personally always took the view that, if you look at the case of should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from a hotel, I took the view that if it’s a question of somebody who’s doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn’t come into their own home.”, he said in a recording of the meeting.
“If they are running a hotel on the High Street, I really don’t think that it is right in this day and age that a gay couple should walk into a hotel and be turned away because they are a gay couple, and I think that is where the dividing line comes.”
The comments have sparked anger among gay rights groups and are embarrassing to Conservative leader David Cameron, who has made great play of his party’s increased openness to homosexuals.
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights group Stonewall, said the comments would be “very alarming to a lot of gay people who may have been thinking of voting Conservative”.