A pro-marriage adoption agency in Scotland says it is “delighted and relieved” after winning a bid to keep its charitable status.
St Margaret’s Children and Family Care Society – a Roman Catholic adoption group – risked losing its status because it prioritises placing children with married couples.
The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) told the group to change or be removed from the charity register last year.
On Friday the Scottish Charity Appeals Panel ruled in the adoption agency’s favour, saying its actions are a justifiable and “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.
A spokesman for St Margaret’s said: “We are delighted and relieved that the threat hanging over us has been lifted.
“Our only wish is to continue to do the good work for which we have been recognised by the authorities, of placing children in need of families with loving parents.”
The result comes as the Scottish Parliament considers introducing same-sex marriage – MSPs will vote for a final time on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill today.
Scotland for Marriage, which is fighting against plans to redefine marriage, warned that the agency could be in trouble again if same-sex marriage is introduced.
A spokesman said under that situation, a married same-sex couple could say they were being discriminated against.
The group said MSPs should learn from the case and “now listen to our pleas to them to vote for safeguards in the same sex marriage law to protect those who believe in traditional marriage”.
The case against St Margaret’s followed a complaint from the National Secular Society which led to the OSCR deciding that the charity was breaching the Equality Act 2010.
Last year a columnist in The Scotsman newspaper warned that Scotland was heading towards “more equality, less diversity and no justice” in the wake of the OSCR’s decision against St Margaret’s.
Michael Kelly said: “This is a hypothetical case arising from a complaint, not from the gay lobby, but from secularists pursuing an agenda to remove any vestiges of religious belief from public life.”
He said there is now a “hierarchy of rights, with religious belief at the bottom of the pile”.