A gay couple were stunned to be told they could not buy their dream house in Surrey from a devoutly Christian couple – because of their sexuality.
When they tried to arrange a viewing through internet estate agents Purplebricks, they were refused and sent astonishing references to fire and brimstone Bible passages by the couple.
Luke Whitehouse and his ITV producer partner Lachlan Mantell spotted a £650,000, three-bed, semi-detached cottage as they looked to get on the property ladder.
The vendors, builder Luke Main, 33, and his wife, Cambridge University medical physicist Dr Joanna Brunker, 34, refused to let Luke and his partner even view the house, let alone buy it, because they were gay.
They cited passages from the Bible and said they could not sell the house to ‘two men in a partnership.’
Now the online property giant has removed the ad from their site, telling the Mains that their message to Luke and his partner was ‘completely opposed’ to the firm’s values.
Fuming Luke, 34, told MailOnline: ‘Initially for the first 10 seconds I 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. Homophobia still exists, it is still out there. I did not see it coming. I was blindsided by it.’
Luke and Lachlan, 37 – who have been together for eight years – planned to view the house in Surrey last week.
When they asked for a viewing, the Mains messaged them back saying: ‘Would you mind telling us a bit about your position and circumstances when you have a moment please?’.
Lachlan happily replied telling them a little about why they liked the area, adding: ‘I’m a 37-year-old TV producer for ITV and Luke is a 33-year-old business owner in education.’
But the Christian couple’s response stunned them: It read: ‘Dear Lachlan and Luke, thank you for sharing your circumstances with us.
‘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.
‘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). With regards’.
The first Bible passage cited reads: ‘Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
‘They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
‘Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
‘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.
‘Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.’
Purple Bricks informed Mr Main and his wife of their decision to no longer list the property
The second reads: ‘Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.’
Luke reported it to the online estate agents who were selling it via Rightmove.
They have now decided to cease selling the property saying the comments from the owners are against its ‘views and values.’
A Purplebricks spokesperson told them: ‘Thanks for sharing this message Lachlan and we’re so sorry you’ve had this experience.
‘This stance is completely opposed to our views and values. We’ll refund this seller’s fee as Purplebricks no longer wish to list it.’
Luke and Lachlan – originally from Adelaide, Australia are desperate to get their own place after being kept apart during the pandemic,
He said: ‘We were separated during Covid, he was in America while I was here, we were forced apart. Buying a house was something that we wanted to do for a long time. But this was the only house we planned for a viewing. We were looking forward to going this weekend.’
He added: ‘Since I came out eight years ago I have not come across descrimation. I probably have been discriminated against but was just not aware of it.’
Business owner Luke, of Putney, south west London said they wouldn’t buy or even view the house even if the owners apologised and changed their mind.
He added: ‘We will look for something else now
‘We are not going to let it affect us trying to buy a house.’
Purplebricks said it was not aware of the message the sellers sent to Luke and Lachlan until it was reported to them.
The estate agent said as soon as it saw it, staff responded immediately and insisted as a company it celebrates diversity.
A Purplebricks spokesperson said: ‘The sentiments expressed in this message are completely opposed to Purplebricks’ views and values.
‘We have contacted the seller to return their fee and request that they sell their property with a different agent.’
The incident has echoes of the 2014 ‘gay cake row’ in Belfast when a bakery refused to supply a cake decorated with the words ‘support gay marriage’.
Ashers Bakers won their case in the Supreme Court in 2018 on the grounds that no-one could be forced to promote a belief they profoundly disagreed with.
Stonewall campaigners condemned the couple’s action.
Sasha Misra, Associate Director of Communications and Campaigns at Stonewall said: ‘It is shocking to hear that a gay couple were turned away from buying a property because of their sexuality. 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. 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.’
Ms Brunker and Mr Main have expressed their views on gay relationships before, and both of them wrote to a House of Lords Committee in 2019 outlining their views on how the subject should be handled in schools’ ‘relationship education’.
Mr Main wrote: ‘Thank-you for granting parents and others the opportunity to share their views on the above proposed Statutory Instrument.
I am a single 30-year-old, who has 13 siblings, and I am very concerned that they and others, are not taught things which will be harmful to them, and society at large. Secular, liberal views which seem to dominate society today, to the complete exclusion of God and His Word, the Holy Bible, are damaging to us and our posterity. Therefore I am saddened that the State should want to indoctrinate children with ideas of relationships which should never be mentioned or countenanced, let alone taught and encouraged. And then to imply that the parents would have no right to withdraw their children from these lessons is bordering on draconian.
‘I would be glad if you would kindly consider my proposal, which would be to diligently compare proposed teaching content with the Holy Bible, on which our very Constitution is based, and then please consider that it violates the rights of parents in the upbringing of their children, to enforce teaching on those children which is not only unnecessary, but dangerous and harmful.
‘I hope you will be given help and wisdom from God to discuss this matter, and bring it to an issue which is pleasing in His sight, before Whom we will all give an account of our deeds after we die: Romans 14:12’Dr Brunker wrote: ‘I am very concerned about the above law that is proposed.
In particular, I am extremely uncomfortable about forcing children aged 4 to 11 to learn about non-traditional families, relationships and sexual identities. This overrides the rights of parents to bring up their children within certain belief systems. At the very least parents should have the right to exclude their children from this Relationships Education.
‘Please vote against this Statutory Instrument to save our children from being stolen from their parents and sold to state-decreed way of thinking. Variety of opinions and beliefs is what makes us a diverse and healthy society, and we cannot afford to stifle freedom of thought and belief.
I would be very grateful if you could carefully consider my concerns. ‘
Mr Main is listed as a director of LM Buildscapes Ltd, a company which was dissolved in 2011, but his Transit van still carries the name of LM Buildscapes.
Dr Bunker, who obtained her PhD at University College, London, appeared on a 2017 YouTube video as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Physics and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute at the University of Cambridge.
She is currently listed as staff on the website of Cambridge University’s Synthetic Biology Interdisciplinary Research Centre.
Contacted by MailOnline, Mr Main said he would have to discuss the matter with his wife, but added: ‘Not that we’re ashamed of what we said in any way’.