Govt silent on plight of faith-based adoption agencies

Fewer children in care are being adopted into loving families. The Government wants to change that but will not talk about the sexual orientation laws that have shut down faith-based adoption agencies.

In a bid to get more children adopted, the coalition has called for an end to the ban on mixed-race adoptions.

But ministers have said nothing about the faith-based adoption agencies that have been shut down or secularised because of their beliefs on marriage.


In 2007 Labour introduced controversial Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs), which outlawed discrimination in the provision of goods and services.

Faith-based adoption agencies who wanted to place children with married couples in accordance with their beliefs were hit by the regulations.

Of the eleven Roman Catholic adoption agencies operating in 2007, ten have now been forced to either close down or ditch their religious ethos.

And the sole remaining RC adoption agency, Catholic Care, is embroiled in a High Court battle for the right to retain its religious ethos.


In a separate case, a Pentecostal Christian couple from Derby who were barred from fostering because of their traditional Christian beliefs on homosexual conduct are also taking their case to the High Court.

The couple, who have attracted support from a number of leading bishops, are seeking clarification on the SORs and the Equality Act.

There were 3,200 adoptions during the year ending 31 March 2010.


This represents a four per cent decline from the previous year when there were 3,300, and a 14 per cent decrease from the 2006 figure of 3,700.

Last month Catholic Care appealed to a High Court judge in a desperate attempt to stay open.

The Charity Commission claims the SORs mean RC adoption agencies must place children for adoption with same-sex couples, despite it being contrary to church teaching.


Leeds-based Catholic Care wants to continue its faith based policy of assessing only married heterosexuals and single people as potential adopters.

But earlier this year the Charity Commission ruled that the agency’s religious views didn’t justify their refusal to place children with homosexuals, and it told Catholic Care to either close down its adoption service or alter its stance on same-sex adoption.

Now Catholic Care has lodged an appeal, arguing that the Charity Commission ignored a previous ruling by High Court Judge Sir Michael Briggs who ruled in favour of the agency in March.


Benjamin James, of London law firm Bircham Dyson Bell Solicitors, said the “Commission is wrong in its decision.”

He added: “We have lodged an appeal with the charity tribunal and the charity tribunal will request that the Charity Commission responds within 28 days.

“Once the Commission has responded, there will be a directions hearing deciding how the case will be managed going forward”.

“The actual appeal is whether the Charity Commission correctly interpreted Sir Michael’s [Briggs] judgment,” he continued.

Related Resources