My View: No house room for bed and bigotry in
So I admire and applaud those who do turn their home into a bed and breakfast – although it seems there are still some who don't take the view that they are there to provide hospitality for all, preferring instead to take in only those they like the look and sound of. Last month a middle-aged male gay couple were turned away from a B&B in Berkshire because the owner said it was against her policy to accommodate same-sex couples.
What is this? The 1950s? Yet, astonishingly, landlords who think it's acceptable to discriminate may have support. Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling last week suggested that Christian bed-and-breakfast owners, for example, should be allowed to turn away
gay couples, on the basis that individuals should have the right to decide who does and doesn't enter their home.
But, actually, they don't have that right. No-one is forced to turn their home into a commercial premises, but if they do, they have to abide by the law, and under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, no one should be refused goods or services on the grounds of their sexuality. If, in 2010, landlords are still getting away with discrimination, surely it is they who need vetting, not potential customers?
My own experience of B&Bs has been disconcerting, over the years. When I was pregnant 15 years ago my husband and I took an impromptu trip to the Yorkshire Dales and knocked on the door of a bed and breakfast in a well-known picture postcard village (I won't name it as I'd hate to besmirch the majority of excellent B&Bs there and throughout the Dales). The landlady opened with a surly glare, gave my bump a dubious sneering stare, and grudgingly nodded us up to a peeling pink room with a dirty shower and no hot water. We left the next morning feeling grubby and used.
Five years ago, I booked a B&B near Luton Airport and arrived at 10pm, as arranged, to be told it had been double-booked, but I could stay next door. The people there had lots of tattoos (one of my own silly prejudices) and moved their sleeping child so I could rest in its bed for a few hours, happily pocketing my 40. I had no choice but to accept.
I had hoped that these sort of places no longer existed. Poor service should not be tolerated, and neither should unpleasantness and bigotry. Sadly, reports of discrimination, as in the Berkshire case, leave me to suspect there is still much wrong in some areas of the bed-and-breakfast world.