Northern Ireland news

Pastor in legal action against Belfast hotel for halting event opposing same-sex marriage

The Balmoral Hotel in west Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann
Brendan Hughes

AN evangelical group has said a church minister is taking legal action against a west Belfast hotel for halting an event opposing same-sex marriage.

Rev Harry Coulter of Carrickfergus Reformed Presbyterian Church booked a conference room at the Balmoral Hotel for a 'Marriage Matters' event.

The public meeting was allegedly interrupted and stopped by staff at the hotel following a complaint from another customer.

The Christian Institute said Rev Coulter has now instructed solicitors, claiming the hotel did not give an explanation or recompense for the cancellation.

The event last October was among seven 'Marriage Matters' events scheduled at hotels across the north.

Posters published online said the public meetings sought to "explain why marriage is between a man and a woman".

Same-sex marriage was legalised in Northern Ireland in January after landmark legislation passed through Westminster last year in Stormont's absence.

Campaigners had welcomed it as a "historic day for equality" in the north, which had been the only part of Ireland and Britain where same-sex marriage was outlawed.

Callum Webster of the Christian Institute claimed the hotel event's cancellation was a "violation of free speech".

He said the group was assisting Rev Coulter in his legal action.

In an email to supporters, Mr Webster added: "His 50 attendees had to leave the hotel along with the keynote speaker, who had travelled from Wales."

The Balmoral Hotel, which is situated on Blacks Road, was unavailable for comment.

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Northern Ireland news