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Tribunal: Christian inn owners discriminated against gay couple

Friday, July 20, 2012
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VANCOUVER, B.C. — A British Columbia Human Rights tribunal has ordered the owners of a now-closed Bed and Breakfast to pay $4,500 in damages and expenses to a same-sex couple for refusing them accommodations because they are gay.

Brian Thomas and Shaun Eadie

Les and Susan Molnar, who owned the now-closed River-bed Bed and Breakfast in Grand Forks, B.C., argued that they were exercising their rights to religious freedom under the Canadian Charter, claimed that sex outside of marriage is morally wrong, and that it is their belief that marriage is solely between between a man and a woman.

In their testimony, the couple stated that these arguments were justification for denying accommodations to Brian Thomas and Shaun Eadie, and to avoid permitting homosexual relations in their home.

But the tribunal disagreed with the constitutional argument, and noted that the inn was not run by a church, and that the Molnar’s subject the couple “to indignity and humiliation by turning them away in 2009, based on their sexual orientation.”

“Having entered into the commercial sphere, the Molnars, like other business people, were required to comply with the laws of the province … that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” wrote tribunal member Enid Marion, in the decision.

Thomas told the CBC that the ruling was a “resounding and dramatic decision,” and said he hopes it “sets a precedent for people to feel empowered to fight discrimination face on.”

“If there is any lesson learned from this, we really hope that is if you are wronged, if you have your principles violated, that you have a moral obligation to stand up to that because it’s bigger than just what’s happened to that individual,” Thomas said. “If it’s not questioned or not challenged, it makes it right; it makes it okay. It’s not okay.”

The Molnars closed their inn after Thomas and Eadie filed the complaint against them, and the couple said they have no plans to reopen.

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