Last UK Catholic adoption agency loses appeal over gay adoption
LEEDS, United Kingdom, May 4, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The UK’s First-Tier Tribunal of the Charity Commission rejected an appeal last week by Catholic Care, the last Catholic adoption agency in the country, to change its constitution to exclude homosexuals from adopting children.
Catholic Care’s fight with the law has been ongoing since the passage of the Sexual Orientations Regulations in 2007. Eleven Catholic adoption agencies chose to fight that law, which prohibited “discrimination” based upon sexual orientation; however, all but Catholic Care have now either closed their doors or severed ties with the Catholic Church.
Following a ruling by the Charity Commission last summer, rejecting their proposed amendments, Catholic Care filed an appeal in September 2010 arguing that the amendment to their constitution was in fact justified by a provision in the Equality Act 2010 that allows a charitable organization to restrict benefits if it is “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.”
Catholic Care argued that by forcing them to accept homosexual demands, the Commission would thereby reduce the funding available through Catholic organizations to the adoption agency, necessitating the charity’s closure. The “closure of the Appellant’s adoption services must ipso facto reduce the capacity for finding homes for children requiring such homes” especially children deemed “hardest” to serve.
In an October 2010 statement the social care organization defended their decision to appeal based on their strong desire to “continue to offer adoption services in accordance with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and to allow the Charity to rely on Catholic funds.” Catholic Care maintained they would be unable to continue their work without Catholic funding.
”We believe that we have very strong grounds for the appeal and are convinced of our case,” said a spokesperson for the charity. “If upheld the Charity Commission’s decision will lead to the closure of the Charity’s services.”
“The Charity is not seeking to prevent same sex couples from adopting children; the Charity is simply seeking to ensure that it can deliver a valuable service in accordance with both the law and the religious ethos of the Charity.”
Speaking before the Tribunal, Rev. Arthur Roche, Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds, argued that just as the Church is not required by the Equality Law to bless civil partnerships, so Church-affiliated adoption agencies should not have to provide adoption services to homosexuals.
“With the greatest of respect to the Bishop,” the Tribunal countered, “his argument overlooked the essential distinction between private acts of worship such as blessings and the provision of a public service such as an adoption agency.”
Citing a letter from the Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, the Tribunal concluded that the “wide range of opinion” among donating Catholics left the court “not…satisfied” that the charity would inevitably close on financial grounds by its “inability to discriminate.”
In response to last week’s decision, Bishop Roche said, “Catholic Care is very disappointed with this ruling. The Trustees are considering their position and whether or not to appeal.
“It is unfortunate that those who will suffer as a consequence of this ruling will be the most vulnerable children for whom Catholic Care has provided an excellent service for many years. It is an important point of principle that the Charity should be able to prepare potential adoptive parents, a service recognised for its excellence by the local authorities who are responsible for placing children, according to the tenets of the Catholic faith.”