A Scottish same-sex couple have spoken of how a wedding venue refused to host their marriage ceremony – simply because they are gay.
Stephen and John believe that Cottam didn’t initially realise she was dealing with a gay couple until they mentioned they would be converting their civil pertnership into a marriage. Once she was aware of this, she became hostile towards the couple. According to John, she “couldn’t hide her disgust”, telling them that marriage should be between one man and one woman and that while she was aware of the new legislation she can, as the owner, do as she pleases.
“The woman just ushered us out, as her wedding planner stood there utterly embarrassed and in disbelief”, John added. “I couldn’t believe someone could be so intolerant in this day and age. I want people to know how we were treated. I wouldn’t want any other couple to go there filled with hope and excitement and be cast out.
“We’ve fought for many years for equal rights. That woman stripped me of them in an instant. It’s not OK to treat people like this. We’re a loving and faithful couple and we want to celebrate that – like everyone else.”
Stephen and John understandably found the incident upsetting and are now looking for alternative venues for their wedding, which they are planning for May 2016.
They are also considering taking legal action against Loch Lomond Waterfront, as it is plainly unlawful to discriminate in offering services on the basis of sexual orientation.
Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: “If proven, this alleged incident would be a blatant and hurtful act of discrimination. It is also against the law as no business is allowed to withhold its services to people on the grounds of sexual orientation.
“The couple would be well within their rights to take Loch Lomond Waterfront to court should they choose to do so. However, the damage could already be done for the resort if lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, their friends and their families felt that their custom is not welcome.”
LGBTI rights activist and councillor Mathew Hulbert said: “People are entitled to their own private and public faith, but when that belief system impacts negatively on the service offered-or, in this case, not offered-to other law-abiding people, then that is where, actually, a line has been crossed. It is not for you to pick and choose who you’ll accept custom from. Prejudice is wrong in all its forms and that includes barring people from using a service you provide just because they are and who they love. No faith or belief system, in my view, is a defence for acting in such a deeply intolerant way.”
Loch Lomond Waterfront have issued a statement on their website, in which they insist the allegation is untrue. “We would like to put the record straight about false allegations made about us in the media today. Suzanne Cottam did not say the words attributed to her, nor would she do so because of her Christian faith and her belief in the dignity of all people.”