Recently there has been a high profile case in the UK concerning a religious christian couple who own a hotel. Due to their personal religious beliefs their policy was to refuse a room to couples who were not married. They refused a 'married' homosexual couple a room on the grounds that they were not of the same 'orientation', which went against their religious values. They said that it would feel wrong to allow it and that they would feel more trepidation answering to God than the justice system.

According to halacha would you be considered an 'accomplice' to the aveirot that are committed under your premises (be it unmarried or homosexual couples who are 'looking to hire a room')? Or would it be permitted to rent out a room to anyone i.e. once hired out it is no longer any of your business or jurisdiction and you cannot be held accountable?

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Our sources discussed this concept long ago. See Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 151:1, e.g. the Talmud discussed whether I may sell frankincense to pagans knowing that they will use it for idolatrous worship.

There is a key distinction between enabling a sin (i.e. it would be impossible or incredibly difficult for the sinner to sin without you, or you are actively enticing or misleading them into the sin) -- which is a very serious problem (and would come up, potentially, for a same-sex couple of any religion, or an unmarried Jewish couple); vs. simply assisting a sin (i.e. they could sin with or without you).

In virtually all cases that come up today, these are questions of assisting rather than enabling. Do I really think this couple will sin any less if I refuse them the room? Generally, for non-Jews or non-observant Jews, we say it's best to avoid assisting if reasonably possible, but the letter of the law is that it's permissible. (I.e. you shouldn't get yourself sued over it.)

We could even debate whether furnishing a room is called "assisting" a sin -- Rabbi Moshe Feinstein writes that one is allowed to rent an apartment to someone who will violate the Sabbath within it. "Assistance" only pertains to the act of the sin directly (e.g. the caterer who rents out his hall to Jews on a day that we're not allowed to have weddings).

Rabbi Michael Broyde has observed that evangelical Christians don't accept this distinction of assisting vs. enabling; we have a very old, nuanced, and profound religion, and we do.


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