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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Adoption Agencies: RC Church prevented from putting dogma before children’s best interests

The National Secular Society welcomes the decision of the Charity Commission to refuse the application by Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) to continue discriminating against homosexual prospective adopters.

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the NSS, said: “We’re delighted that the Charities Commission has agreed that this adoption agency should not be permitted to discriminating against homosexuals, which is what Parliament intended. It is also what case law on Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights requires, bearing in mind the essentially public nature of the adoption. Most of the expenditure on this work came from public funds, generally from local authorities.

The decision was not made to give equality to gay adopters, but was made in the interests of children to ensure the largest possible pool of adoptive parents. By failing to do this, the Church has once more shown its obsession with dogma over compassion and the best interests of the children they serve. Similarly, while the Church has accepted individual homosexuals as adopters, it refuses to do so if they are in partnerships, despite those in partnerships being more likely to be able to provide a stable home life.

The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 gave agencies stay of execution until the end of 2008 to conform to the law. Most Catholic agencies agreed to adopt non-discriminatory practices, indeed we understand some were pleased to be forced for the rules imposed on them by the Church to be discriminatory were overridden.

Catholic Care was the last adoption agency to hold out for the right to discriminate. It currently only provides for an average of ten children per year. The Charity Commission was not intimidated by the charity’s threat to close, pointing out that other agencies would do the work.

Published Thu, 19 Aug 2010