A Roman Catholic adoption agency has lost the latest round in its attempt to protect its religious ethos following the introduction of new ‘gay rights’ legislation.
The Leeds-based charity, Catholic Care, has been told it must consider gay couples as potential adopters under the new Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs), despite its belief that children need a mother and a father.
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 change its charitable objects to make clear that it only placed children with heterosexual couples, but the Charity Commission refused its attempt last year.
Yesterday the Charity Tribunal, which hears appeals of rulings made by the Commission, told Catholic Care that it would be breaking the law by refusing to consider gay couples as adoptive parents.
Despite ruling against the agency, the Tribunal recognised that Catholic Care was “a well-respected voluntary adoption agency which has made a significant contribution to the provision of adoption services in this country and facilitated many successful adoption placements”.
A spokesman for Leeds Diocese feared the decision meant 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.”