Catholic charity's appeal over gay adoption fails

Image caption,
Catholic Care has been organising adoptions for more than 100 years

A Roman Catholic adoption charity's appeal to be allowed to discriminate against gay people wanting it to place children with them has been rejected.

Catholic Care wanted exemption from new anti-discrimination laws so it could limit services provided to homosexual couples on religious grounds.

The Charity Commission said gay people were suitable parents and religious views did not justify discrimination.

The Leeds-based charity said it was "very disappointed".

Catholic Care - which had been placing children with adoptive parents for more than 100 years - was among a dozen Catholic agencies in England and Wales forced to change their policy towards homosexual people by the equality laws passed in 2007.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said the others have either closed or cut their links with the Church.

However, Catholic Care tried to change its constitution so that it would be committed to following Catholic teaching and placing children only with heterosexual parents.

New regulations

The agency, which serves the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough, and Hallam in South Yorkshire, had previously argued that the Equality Act went against the Catholic Church's teachings on marriage and family life.

The appeal had come after the Church lost a battle against the introduction of the Sexual Orientations Regulations, under the Equality Act, which forced agencies to consider homosexual couples as potential adoptive parents.

Catholic agencies were given a 21-month transition period to comply with the new rules, which ended in December 2008.

The High Court told the Charity Commission to reconsider the case, but the commission has now decided that Catholic Care's religious views did not justify its continued discrimination.

The commission said gay people were suitable parents, and that ending the charity's adoption work would not harm the interests of children.

In a statement, Catholic Care said: "The charity is very disappointed with the outcome.

"Catholic Care will now consider whether there is any other way in which the charity can continue to support families seeking to adopt children in need.

"In any event, Catholic Care will seek to register as an adoption support agency offering a service to those who were adopted in the past and are now seeking information about their background, and also to support adoptive parents already approved by Catholic Care."

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