RC adoption group given survival bid to High Court

A Roman Catholic adoption agency has been given the chance to appeal after losing a bid to protect its pro-marriage ethos last month.

The Leeds-based charity, Catholic Care, was told by the Charity Tribunal last month that under the new Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) it would have to consider gay couples as potential adopters, despite its belief that children need a mother and a father.

However, the adoption agency has now been granted permission to appeal to the High Court over the matter which the Tribunal said was of “public importance” and “would be appropriate for the High Court to consider on appeal”.

Mark Wiggin, chief executive of Catholic Care, said the charity had not yet decided whether to pursue the appeal.

“We have to leave open the option,” he said.

The charity is one of several Roman Catholic adoption groups forced to choose between abandoning their beliefs on marriage, dropping out of adoption work or risking falling foul of the SORs.

The SORs make it illegal to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation when providing goods or services, and were controversially introduced in 2007 with no exemption for religious adoption agencies.

The agencies were given until the end of 2008 to comply.

Catholic Care had hoped to clarify in its charitable objects that it only placed children with couples in a manner which is in keeping with its religious ethos, but the Charity Commission refused its attempt last year.

Last month a spokesman for Leeds Diocese said he feared the decision would mean charities like Catholic Care “will need to close their adoption services and a flagship service of the charities will be lost”.

He added: “We are concerned about the possible impact this will have on potential adoptive parents and children.”

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