Scotland’s most notorious B&B could be in hot water again. A Thousand Flowers understands the website for the Cromisaig B&B in Kinlochewe, Wester Ross has come to the attention of the relevant authorities.
The B&B’s website was updated back in 2014 to include the phrase “Family and Heterosexual Friendly.” As if to further clarify what they meant, they again updated the site last year to add a graphic used by opponents of marriage equality. It goes without saying this is accompanied by a quote from Martin Luther King. No, really.
The Equality Network, who campaign for LGBTI rights, told A Thousand Flowers, “[T]hat webpage was drawn to our attention in the past couple of days. We have asked the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland for their view on it.”
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in Scotland, who have the power to take action over advertising which they believe to be discriminatory, confirmed the website has been referred to them but an EHRC spokesperson told us they would be “unable to discuss it further at this early stage.”
The fact this B&B has a roasterish website, which may or may not be against the law, is now a matter for the EHRC but there’s a broader question over whether they are refusing services to same sex couples, which is definitely against the law.
Back in 2004, when Stephen Nock tried to book a room for himself and his partner at the B&B, owner Tom Forrest replied to offer a twin room instead, adding,
We do not have a problem with your personal sexual deviation, that is up to you. You are welcome to our twin room if you wish, but we will not condone your perversion.
In response to this blatant discrimination, Visit Scotland stripped them of their 3 star status and that was pretty much the end of it. Believe it or not, back in the dark days of 2004, what Forrest did wasn’t actually against the law. The law is now 100% clear: no-one who owns a B&B can legally discriminate in their provision of service based on someone’s sexuality.
People have a right to know that any business, but especially those businesses in remote locations where there might be no alternative, will serve them regardless of the personal prejudices of the people who happen to work there. When you run a business, you lose your right to discriminate. While it would be entirely wrong to pretend discrimination in service provision across Scotland begins and ends at this B&B, we also shouldn’t be sold on any tales about how automatically unwelcoming rural Scotland is. Spare a thought for the former owner of the only Hotel in Kinlochewe, Roderick McCall, who was subjected to a barrage of misdirected outrage and negative reviews, despite being known for such belters as, “the pink pound has arrived in Wester Ross.”
Back in 2008, another B&B hit the headlines for discriminating against a couple. and Peter Bull refused to let civil partners Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall stay in a double room at their Cornish B&B. They were encouraged to drag the case through 3 separate courts by fundamentalist groups, losing 3 times in the County Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Forced to pay the couple £3600 and having spent all their time losing court cases, they were forced to sell their B&B. Tom Forrest was said to be in regular contact with the couple.
With the potential for another standoff over whether businesses get to discriminate (HINT: the answer is still no), Tom Forrest would be well advised to consider the experience of the Bulls and their former B&B – or better yet, listen to the advice of his wife Liz and just stop talking about homosexuality.
Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AThousandFlowers
Follow us on Twitter @unsavourycabal