England’s last remaining Roman Catholic adoption agency has been granted an appeal in its long-running legal battle to preserve its religious ethos in the face of sexual orientation laws.
Leeds-based Catholic Care upholds the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage when placing children for adoption with couples.
The charity has been fighting for survival since 2008 when it was denied permission to enshrine its policy in its official charitable objects.
Earlier this year the Charity Tribunal said the charity must be willing to provide adoption services to same-sex couples.
The tribunal subsequently ruled in June that it would not accept an appeal against the decision by the Leeds-based charity.
But now Mr Justice Warren has granted Catholic Care permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal, which has the same status as the High Court.
Of the eleven Roman Catholic adoption agencies operating in England and Wales in 2007, Catholic Care is the only one which has not yet closed down or dropped its religious ethos because of sexual orientation laws.
Benjamin James, a solicitor acting on behalf of the agency, said that Catholic Care would argue its stance was reasonable given that the alternative was to close the adoption service.
Mr James, of the law firm Bircham Dyson Bell, said that the Upper Tribunal had decided an appeal would have a “real prospect of success in establishing that the charity tribunal had erred in law”.
However he cautioned that this was the standard wording issued to all organisations granted permission to appeal, and did not indicate a particular likelihood of success.
Opponents of Catholic Care’s policy claim that the charity is acting unlawfully by not considering homosexual couples. However, the law gives some charities the right to restrict services on the basis of sexual orientation.
A charity can do this if it is attempting to act within its stated aims as set out in its trust deed.