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MP for Epsom and Ewell nominated 'Bigot of the Year' on gay charity awards
Minister for Pensions and MP for Epsom and Ewell Chris Grayling has been nominated at a charity award as “bigot of the year”.
Gay charity Stonewall runs the awards in which Mr Grayling was nominated for the award for saying Christian bed and breakfast owners who run the business from their home should have the right to turn away gay couples.
Mr Grayling was secretly recorded at a meeting at the Centre for Policy Studies, a centre-right think-tank, saying owners of B&Bs should have the right to decide who comes into their home.
The MP was commenting on an episode where a gay couple was turned away from a B&B in Cookham, Berkshire because their partnership was against the B&B owners’ Christian principles.
In the recording, obtained by the Observer, Mr Grayling said: "I think we need to allow people to have their own consciences.
"I personally always took the view that, if you look at the case of should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from a hotel, I took the view that if it's a question of somebody who's doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn't come into their own home.
"If they are running a hotel on the High Street, I really don't think that it is right in this day and age that a gay couple should walk into a hotel and be turned away because they are a gay couple, and I think that is where the dividing line comes."
He has been nominated for the award alongside Sunday Times columnist AA Gill, who called TV presenter Claire Balding a "dyke on a bike, puffing up the nooks and crannies at the bottom end of the nation", and Daily Express columnist Frederick Forsyth, who Stonewall said had "mocked" the plight of gay and lesbian asylum seekers.
Others nominated on the same category were the Bishop of Leeds Arthur Roache, who led the campaign for Catholic adoption agencies to be allowed to bar gay couples and Suzanne Wilkinson, a bed and breakfast owner who refused to let a gay male couple stay in her house.
In an interview with the Epsom Guardian after the episode, in April, Mr Grayling said he had "voted in favour of gay rights legislation in the past and that’s what I support – gay rights".
Mr Grayling declined to comment on the nomination.
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