A gay couple were stopped from buying a house after owners refused to even let them visit for a viewing – saying homosexuality is ‘contrary’ to their religious beliefs.
Luke Whitehouse and Lachlan Mantell had fallen in love with a £650,000 three-bedroom semi-detached cottage in Coulsdon, Surrey, and planned to go and see the property last Saturday (15 January).
However, after arranging to visit through estate agents Purplebricks, they received a message from the sellers to say that they were ‘unwilling’ to proceed with any potential sale, citing Bible passages to claim their relationship went against ‘God’s Word’.
It said: "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 sellers – Luke Main, a 33-year-old builder, and wife Joanna Brunker, a 34-year-old Cambridge University physicist – had originally said they couldn’t host viewings on Sundays as they try to ‘keep them as the Lord’s Day’.
They then asked Whitehouse and Mantell, who have been together for eight years, for information about their ’position and circumstances’.
Mantell, 37, replied: “I’m a 37-year-old TV producer for ITV and Luke is a 33-year-old business owner in education.
“My brother, his wife and two young children live in the area and we’ve spent a lot of time in Coulsdon and surrounds and feel it’s a good fit for us.
“Luke is English and originally from the Midlands and I’m from Australia.
“We’ve lived all over the world but are happy to call England home now.
“We look forward to meeting you both at a convenient time and viewing the property.”
It was at this point that they received the ‘discriminatory’ message’, which Whitehouse, 34, reported to Purplebricks, which had listed the property through Rightmove.
The estate agency told him it would ‘no longer’ list the house and as the sellers’ stance went against its own ‘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.”
Speaking about how he felt when he received the message, Whitehouse said: “For the first 10 seconds I laughed – I thought it was a joke. But then I was upset and I had a cry on the phone to my mum. Homophobia still exists.”
Mantell 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 discrimination.
"I probably have been discriminated against but was just not aware of it."
Whitehouse said they wouldn’t want to buy the house even if the owners apologised and changed their mind, saying they would ‘look for something else’.
Purplebricks said it was not aware of the message the sellers sent until it was reported, saying as soon as staff saw it, they responded immediately – insisting that as a company it celebrates diversity.
A 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.”
Main said in a statement to the Daily Mail that he would need to discuss the matter with his wife, adding: “Not that we're ashamed of what we said in any way.”
Featured Image Credit: Triangle News
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