Originally published in Lifesite News
A Catholic charity that has provided adoption services since 1865 will no longer be able to offer that service while adhering to its moral principles.
The UK’s Upper Tribunal, the equivalent of the High Court in the administrative justice system, rejected an appeal by Catholic Care, the last Catholic adoption agency in the country, to change its constitution to exclude homosexuals from adopting children.
The ruling has ended the five-year battle of Catholic Care. The charity first appealed in 2008 against an initial decision by the Charity Commission that it could not change its constitution to exclude homosexuals.
Lawyers representing Catholic Care argued before tribunal judge, Mr Justice Sales, that the agency’s policy not to consider homosexual couples as prospective adoptive parents was in line with the exemption for charities under section 193 the 2010 Equality Act. That law permits sexual orientation discrimination if it constitutes a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.”
“If you bear in mind how paramount the interests of children are, then really the only possible conclusion under section 193 is that what we seek to do is a proportionate way of achieving a legitimate aim,” said Monica Carss-Frisk QC for Catholic Care.
However, Emma Dixon, representing the Charity Commission argued that compromise would mean any discrimination “could be justified on the grounds that the benefit to the majority group receiving the service will outweigh detriment to the minority group.”
Carss-Frisk also pointed out that Catholic Care would lose its funding from the Catholic Church and thus be unable to continue if its existing ‘heterosexual couples only’ policy could not be maintained.
“If the charity can’t get funding and has to stop providing its service, even fewer – in fact no – parents would be passed by the charity,” she said. “The tribunal fails to take this into account.”
Justice Sales, in upholding the previous decisions, ruled, “Notwithstanding some criticisms that can be made about the first tier tribunal’s reasoning, I am satisfied that the conclusion it came to is correct in law and that this appeal should be dismissed.”
Catholic Care issued a statement saying, “Without the constitutional restriction for which it applied, Catholic Care will be forced to close its adoption service. In doing so, it will be joining many other faith-based adoption services that have been forced to close since 2008.”
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of the UK’s Christian Concern, commented that “Catholic Care has supported disadvantaged and vulnerable children in the UK for over a hundred years. We cannot afford to exclude those who are willing to provide such a crucial service just because they do not agree with a small minority pushing a homosexual agenda under the guise of ‘equal’ rights.”
“The commission’s claim that the impact of Catholic Care’s policy on minority groups is greater than the needs of over 50,000 children waiting to be placed in a suitable home, cannot be substantiated,” Williams concluded.