A British gay couple has been left “blindsided” after Christian homeowners refused to allow them to view or buy their home.
Citing “God’s Word,” the religious homeowners pointed the men to Bible verses about “sinful desires” and “eternal fire.”
Luke Whitehouse, 33, and his partner Lachlan Mantell, 37, told MailOnline that they had been looking to buy their first home together when they spotted an $880,000 cottage in Surrey. The property was listed with online real estate agent Purplebricks, which requires potential buyers to arrange viewings through homeowners.
Whitehouse reached out to the owners — Luke Main, 33, and Dr. Joanna Brunker, 34 — to plan a viewing. Main responded by asking, “Would you mind telling us a bit about your position and circumstances when you have a moment please?”
Whitehouse told Main that after living all over the world, he and Luke were seeking to “call England home” and that they had family in the area.
Main responded by implying that Whitehouse and Mantell would suffer “eternal fire” for their relationship.
“We’re sorry if we seem intrusive, but we just want to make clear that we would be unwilling for two men in a partnership to view or buy our house,” Main replied. “As it is contrary to the gracious teaching in God’s Word, the Holy Bible, e.g Romans 1:24-28 and Jude 7 (King James Version).”
The two excerpts cited by Main are often cited by anti-gay Christians to oppose gay people and same-sex relationships.
The Romans excerpt references “sinful desires,” “shameful lusts,” and people “degrading…their bodies with one another.”
“God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones,” it continues. “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
The Jude excerpt references Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities in which the Bible says citizens gave themselves “over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”
Whitehouse told MailOnline that after reading Main’s reply, he “laughed. I thought it was a joke.”
“But then I was upset and angry and I had a cry on the phone to my mum,” he said. “Homophobia still exists, it is still out there. I did not see it coming. I was blindsided by it.”
Whitehouse reported the message to Purplebricks, which apologized to Whitehouse and said Main’s response was “completely opposed to our views and values.”
“We have contacted the seller to return their fee and request that they sell their property with a different agent,” a Purplebricks spokesperson told MailOnline.
In a series of Facebook posts about their experience, Whitehouse decried the response from the homeowners, calling it “shocking and disgusting.”
“Maybe I’ve been naïve in thinking homophobia isn’t as common in 2022,” Whitehouse wrote. “This is offensive and not acceptable! This is why LGBTQ Pride, equality and legal protections matter.”
Whitehouse said he was “shocked” to learn that the homeowners are younger than he and Mantell.
“We are two men in a long-term relationship that are so proud of who we are and what we represent… LOVE,” Whitehouse added. “No minority group (or any individual for that matter!) should ever fall victim to the kind of discrimination we have recently encountered trying to buy our first home.
“Whether it’s your sexuality, race, religion, disability, etc., we are all equal and this situation showcases why standing up for equality / LGBTQ+ rights is so important! The only way we can rid the world of discrimination is by calling out blatant prejudice and bigotry when you see it!”
MailOnline contacted Main about his message. He told them that he would have to discuss it with his wife, adding, “Not that we’re ashamed of what we said in any way.”
LGBTQ charity Stonewall told the MailOnline that the homeowners’ response to Whitehouse was “shocking.”
“Gay people should be able to rent or buy property wherever they choose and should not expect to be treated differently because of who they love,” Stonewall said.
“Instances like this hark back to an era when it was commonplace to treat lesbian, gay, bi or trans people unfairly, refuse their custom or turn them away from accommodation — and it simply has no place in Britain today.”
Naomi Cunningham, a discrimination attorney appearing on Good Morning Britain — where Mantell is a senior producer — said it was “pretty clear” that the couple had been discriminated against because of their sexuality.
Cunningham noted that the United Kingdom’s Equality Act, passed in 2010, prohibits sellers from discriminating against potential buyers based on their sexual orientation.
“The legal position, to my mind, is really very straightforward,” Cunningham said, adding that it was “very odd” for Main and Brunker to think “they needed to discriminate” on religious grounds.
Also appearing on Good Morning Britain, Whitehouse said the experience had been a “slap in the face” and a reminder of the prevalence of homophobia.
“We’ve had so many messages from people since the story came out,” Mantell said. “Same-sex couples that have had similar experiences, from all over the world in situations like this.”
“It’s so easy to brush it under the carpet as well and not say anything,” Whitehouse added. “We could have easily read it and put it down and forgot about it, but I think we felt like we needed to do something about it.”
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