Can religious groups exempt themselves from discrimination legislation?

The Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, declared that those who provide a public service must abide by the law. Although this sounds quite obvious, many religious organisations have requested to be exempted from this legislation which requires them not to discriminate against homosexual couples on the grounds of their sexuality. A Christian couple was  ordered to pay damages when they discriminated against a homosexual couple by refusing them a double-bedded room in their hotel (in Bull & Bull v Hall & Preddy [2012] EWCA Civ 83). Mr Phillips went on to say in his declaration that an institution cannot claim a need for a “different” set of rights in the light of the values that are enshrined in their faith; arguing for such an exemption makes Christians not so different to Muslims who want to impose Sharia law in the UK.

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