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Discrimination over gay wedding plans
A GAY couple claim their wedding plans have been wrecked after being refused the use of a church hall for their reception.
Bournemouth council’s equality champion Cllr David Kelsey said he was “shocked” by the decision.
Robert Nowik, 29, and his 22-year-old fiancé Kamil Suchonek, have been in a relationship for three years and were delighted when the law allowing same-sex marriage was passed last year.
Their wedding will be held at Bournemouth town hall and after seeing an advertisement for the church hall complex at Sacred Heart, Richmond Hill, they booked it for their wedding after-party.
Robert, a devout Catholic who moved from Poland eight years ago, said he paid the £100 deposit in October and started making plans for catering and the party.
“We really liked it. We hired a private chef so it was perfect, as they said we could use the kitchen they provide there,” he added.
“Everything seemed to be fine until we went back to the church to check the arrangements. We received a phone call from the priest later that evening, who was not happy.
“He said that he knew it was a gay marriage and that we could not have our reception there.
“It was so rude. We were born like this.”
When making the booking, Robert, said the intention was always for the party to be a private event for friends and family, and as the wedding date was near his 30th birthday, it would be a joint celebration. “We were frightened to say we were gay,” he added.
The couple said the news has thrown their wedding plans into chaos and they are struggling to find a new venue.
Cllr Kelsey said the wrong decision had been made and that he wanted to support the couple and help them find an alternative venue.
He added: “I am shocked. Nobody should be discriminated against in this way.”
Reverend doctor Stephen Morgan, secretary to the diocese trust, said the couple had stated the hall would be used for a birthday party – and that they had misrepresented themselves. He added that he had written to them to say their deposit would be returned.
He said: “The intended use of the premises by Mr Nowik is not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church and therefore we are unable to let the premises for that purpose.”
Bournemouth town hall, where Robert and Kamil are having their ceremony, is holding its first gay weddings today.
It comes after the policy was announced by the coalition government following the 2010 general election.
The proposal caused heated debate, but was passed by Parliament in July last year.
The Bill features a “quadruple lock” to safeguard religious organisations from being forced to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies.
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