The charity regulator in Scotland has upheld its previous decision to force a Roman Catholic adoption agency to end its policy favouring marriage.
St Margaret’s adoption agency prioritises couples that have been married for at least two years, but officials said the policy discriminates against gay couples.
The agency appealed the decision by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), but the ruling has now been upheld following a review.
St Margaret’s says its policy is lawful and may take further action to defend itself, but the OSCR says the policy must change if the agency wishes to remain a charity.
A spokesman for St Margaret’s said: “We are disappointed at the decision. We will consult our lawyers before considering what course of action to pursue. In the meantime, St Margaret’s remains open for business.”
When the original decision was made, OSCR issued a statement saying: “The charity expects those applying to be assessed as adoptive parents to have been married for at least two years.
“This constitutes unlawful direct discrimination against same-sex couples and means that St Margaret’s fails to meet the charity test.”
The ruling was sparked by a complaint against the charity by the National Secular Society, which has now welcomed the decision to uphold the ruling.
But in January Scottish Education Minister Mike Russell said he was “disappointed” by the OSCR decision.
“We do not believe that this outcome is in the best interests of the children St Margaret’s helps, who are in need of a safe and loving family home,” he said.