Wednesday November 17, 2010

Christian doctor forced off adoption panel loses Employment Tribunal hearing

By Hilary White

LEICESTER, November 17, 2010 ( – An Employment Tribunal judge has found that there was no discrimination in the case of a Christian pediatrician removed from an adoption panel after she had asked to be allowed to abstain from voting on cases involving applications to adopt from homosexuals.

Judge John MacMillan dismissed the claim, saying the case “fails fairly and squarely on its facts.”

Matthews had expressed her professional opinion, citing academic research as well as her religious beliefs, that the best interests of children are not served by placing them with homosexual adoptive partners.

Under current British law, homosexuals, as individuals or as partners, cannot be refused for consideration for adoption based on their “sexual orientation.”

Dr. Matthews has expressed her “extreme disappointment” at the decision, and said she intends to pursue the case after taking legal advice. She said she brought the issue before the Employment Tribunal “to highlight what is becoming a very worrying and ultimately damaging trend” in British society.

“Christian professionals, who seek to express their professional judgment in the very best interests of children, are being silenced or discriminated against,” she said.

“There are a number of cases occurring throughout the country where sincere individuals are being accused of discrimination or promoting faith views unreasonably and it seems that the rights of other groups such as homosexual people trump that of Christian believers. I believe it should be possible in most cases to have a better balance of rights.”

MacMillan said there was no evidence that Dr. Matthews was treated differently from any other panel member who might request to abstain from voting, or that she was specifically discriminated against on the basis of her Christianity.

In his ruling, MacMillan revealed that he had spoken with a Muslim judge who said that Muslims would have the same concerns about permitting same sex couples to adopt. This meant, he said, that the concern applied equally to those of other faiths or no faiths and that the “disadvantage” was not “particular” to Christians. Therefore, Dr. Matthews was not a victim of discrimination because she was a Christian.

He said the issue “transcended the boundaries of all religions” and ruled that Dr. Matthews should pay the council’s legal costs.

The Christian Legal Centre (CLC), who was handling Matthews’s case, called MacMillan’s reasoning “a disingenuous argument created in order to ensure that Dr. Matthews’ claim failed.”

CLC accused the judge of wanting to avoid investigation into the merits of her opinion and of “washing his hands of this vital issue.” The organization said the fact that the judge took only fifteen minutes to issue a ruling suggests that he had already written his judgment before the hearing.

Dr. Matthews has requested that the case be referred to the European Court of Justice, in the hopes that the larger issue of the balance religious rights with homosexual rights will be fully explored in a legal setting.

“I think it is a sad state of affairs when I am castigated for respectfully expressing a religious and professional opinion,” she said. “So many people have contacted me to express their concerns about this area so I know I am not alone in holding this opinion.”

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