British Catholic Adoption Agencies Not Likely to be Exempted From Gay Law

By Hilary White

  LONDON, January 25, 2007 ( – Yesterday, British news media were speculating that Prime Minister Tony Blair could favour an opt-out clause in legislation that would otherwise force Catholic adoption agencies to act against their principles and place children with homosexual partners.

  Reports today show, however, that a compromise to preserve Catholic social aid agencies is likely not in the offing.

  Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Education and Skills with responsibility for adoption told BBC radio, “I don’t see a case for exemption and I don’t think the prime minister does.”

  Johnson, a Labour politician known from early in his career for his ideological alignment with the Communist Party of Great Britain, said, “To me this is legislation to prevent discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and you cannot do that and at the same time allow discrimination in one area.’‘

  The responses come after the head of Britain’s Catholic Church, Cormac Cardinal Murphy O’Connor issued a letter yesterday warning that should the regulations go into effect in April unmodified, the Church would be forced to withdraw its adoption services. This was the response of the Archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts last year, when faced with similar state coercion, chose to close its hundred-year old adoption services through Catholic Charities rather than be forced to compromise its moral principles.

  Though British Catholic agencies handle only a small percentage of the country’s adoptions, they handle the bulk of the country’s “difficult to place” cases such as disabled children and large sibling groups.

  The Labour government’s most senior Catholic Cabinet minister, Home Secretary John Reid said, “I don’t believe you in this country have the right to overrule some of the fundamental values on which the country is based because you have a conscientious objection.”

  Reid suggested a “transition period” to ease Catholic agencies into compliance with the law. He emphasized, however, that the principle behind endorsing homosexuality as equal to natural sexuality is a “fundamental value” of British society that must be upheld.

  Liberal Democrat MP, Dr. Evan Harris told the BBC that all social welfare agencies should be taken out of religious hands and given over to “secular-governed” institutions.

  Harris, an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society, and the Patron of the Oxford Secular Society, said, “Welfare for the vulnerable cannot be put at risk by reliance on organisations who threaten to pull out, rather than apply the law.”

  These comments support those of the Lord Chancellor, Charles Falconer, who told the BBC on Sunday that there would be no exemptions from the law, religious or otherwise.

  Tony Blair, facing the waning days of his power, is also faced with a possible cabinet revolt over the Equality Act in what has blown into a full-fledged conflict between the Church and Britain’s heavily socialist state.

  Blair announced he will come to a decision on his own position next week and told reporters that though he personally favours allowing homosexuals to adopt children, he hopes a solution can be found that would protect the “sensitivities” of all parties. The matter will come to a vote in Parliament within a month.

  The discussion has ignored the more fundamental issue of a government attempting to coerce the religious consciences of citizens and suppress public religious practice. With the focus on Catholic adoption agencies the predicament of other religious people is being ignored.

  No mention is being made either by the government or the Church of religious schools being forced to endorse the homosexual doctrines or omit Christian teaching on sexuality; of lay-owned business owners, such as bed and breakfast hotels, who object to homosexual activity in their homes; of religious groups who will be forced to rent their facilities for homosexual “weddings.”

  The Catholic Church is not alone in demanding an exemption based on religion. The Church of England and Muslim and Jewish groups have banded together against what they see as effective religious persecution in the guise of “rights.”

  Britain’s Muslim Council issued a statement today saying the group “fully supports the principled stand taken by the leaders of the Catholic and Anglican Churches.”

  The leaders of the Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Archbishop of York John Sentamu, supported the Catholic position while hitting closer to the heart of the matter in a letter to Tony Blair: “The rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation, however well meaning.”

  Read previous coverage:
  Cardinal Says Church Must be Exempted From British Homosexual Discrimination Law

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