Thursday August 19, 2010

Last Catholic Adoption Agency Can’t Exclude Gay Parents: Charity Commission

By Hilary White

LEEDS, August 19, 2010 ( – The UK’s Charity Commission has reiterated a previous ruling saying that Catholic Care, the last Catholic adoption agency in the country, may not change its constitutions to allow it to exclude homosexuals from adopting children.

Catholic Care was the only one of the 11 Catholic adoption agencies that chose to fight the law put in by the Labour government forcing all service providers to comply with homosexuals’ demands. Since 2007 when the law came into effect, all the country’s Catholic adoption agencies but one have either closed their doors or severed their ties with the Catholic Church.

The Charity Commission said that charities could not use Regulation 18 of the Sexual Orientation Regulations, a clause which can allow some organizations to exercise limited discrimination in pursuance of their objectives. It also said that homosexuals are suitable parents and religious views do not justify discrimination.

Despite being told in March by the High Court to reconsider, the Commission ruled that there are not “particularly convincing and weighty reasons justifying the proposed discrimination.” The chief executive of the Commission, Andrew Hind, said, “In certain circumstances, it is not against the law for charities to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation.

“However, because the prohibition on such discrimination is a fundamental principle of human rights law, such discrimination can only be permitted in the most compelling circumstances. We have concluded that in this case the reasons Catholic Care have set out do not justify their wish to discriminate.”

Benjamin James, the solicitor representing Catholic Care, told, “Catholic Care’s position is that Regulation 18 allows discrimination in specified circumstances. The charity has shown a number of reasons why they should be allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.”

Catholic Care has been helping to find places for adoptees in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church that children are best served by placement within a natural family, since the 1880s. They have specialized in finding placements for children considered “difficult” to place.

Asked why Catholic Care has not either closed or given in to the pressure to allow homosexuals to be considered, Benjamin James responded, “The tenets of the Roman Catholic faith are that a family is a man and woman and children. The charity is required under its current objects [constitutions] to act in accordance with the Catholic faith.”

Under the Sexual Orientation Regulations, a Catholic Church can discriminate in certain circumstances, but the exemptions are different for a social service agency, even one that is specifically affiliated with the Church.

James said that Catholic Care is now left to consider its legal options, which it will do when trustees return from holidays.

Will Stuart-Lee, the head of communications for the lobby group Christian Concern for Our Nation (CCFON), told, “We are saddened but not surprised at this decision.”

“The best interests of children are not served by stopping Catholic adoption agencies from continuing their work. Unfortunately, the equalities agenda in the United Kingdom has started to seriously curtail freedom of religion in the public sphere.”

Read related LSN coverage:

UK Catholic Adoption Agencies Voluntarily Refuse Religious Opt-Out Clause for Homosexual Adoption

Bishop: Catholic Adoption Agencies Could Be Evicted for Defying Church Teaching on Homosexual Adoption

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