By Hilary White

BRIGHTON, UK June 10, 2009 ( – In a suit against local government authorities by a British Catholic woman whose son has been given into the care of homosexual foster carers, the larger issue is whether the Labour government’s Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) are in conflict with existing human rights law, an expert in Britain’s discrimination laws told (LSN) today.

Having given the child into the care of foster parents who are necessarily at odds with the religion of the mother and her son, the Brighton and Hove Council could be found to be in violation of the child’s rights under the Children Act 1989 said Neil Addison, director of the Thomas More Legal Centre that is representing the mother. Under section 22 of the Act, children taken into care have the right to have their religion or cultural background taken into consideration in the selection of foster carers.

The job of the court will be to find a “balance” between two apparently conflicting sets of rights. “No law trumps another,” Addison said. “All laws have to be taken together and it is the job of the court to resolve this conflict. It is a question of balancing the rights.”

While he could not comment on the case specifically, Addison did say that it could have an impact on the interpretation of the Sexual Orientation Regulations of the Equality Act. “The SORs deal with the broad principle of discrimination and the Children Act deals with the specific rights of individual children. But the first priority is to see to the welfare of the mother and the child.”

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, experienced a mental breakdown after suffering from an abusive marriage and lost legal custody of her ten year-old son. The boy was taken into care and despite he and his mother being Catholics, was given by the Brighton and Hove Council into a foster carer arrangement with two homosexual men who live together. The woman has now brought a suit against the council, which, the Daily Telegraph reports, has one of the highest rates of “gay” adoption and fostering in the country.

A friend of the woman told the Telegraph that she is worried her son could be led away from the practice of his faith by the lifestyle of the two men.

Addison said there is a serious problem in Britain with councils failing to respect the rights of Christians and consider the needs of the child as a priority. “Local authorities are not very good at showing sensitivity to Christians in the same way they are showing sensitivity to other religions. That is the blunt reality.”

“The priority,” he said, “has to be the welfare of the child, not the SORs. That’s the primary test, what is in the interests of the child.”

Homosexuals and even many Catholics contend that any objections to children being placed with homosexual foster parents are a mere matter of “homophobia” and unlawful discrimination. But Addison said that the case law is very clear, “It is not the job of courts to determine whether religious beliefs are correct or not; it is to determine whether they are sincerely held.”

Part of that determination takes into account the official teaching of the religion in question. In this case, the Catholic Church has clearly stated that placing children with homosexual foster or adoptive parents “does violence” to the child’s natural emotional development. 

“If those are his or his mother’s religious beliefs,” Addison said, “the court can’t go behind that and say, ‘Well, other Catholics disagree with the Church, so the teaching is not valid’.”


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