UK’s Charity Commission Rules Catholic Care May Not Discriminate Against Gay Couples Seeking to Adopt

The UK’s Charity Commission ruled on August 19 that Catholic Care, a Roman Catholic social care organization offering adoption services, cannot discriminate against gay couples who wish to adopt. The agency had sought an exemption from the 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations, which made discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation unlawful where goods or services are provided to the public.

Catholic Care serves the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough, and Hallam, South Yorkshire. Its adoption service represents about 5 percent of its annual spending and, like every other such agency in the UK, it receives taxpayer subsidies.

Only five months ago, the agency had won a High Court battle with the Charity Commission over this issue. The court’s judgment, however, only required the Commission to reconsider the case and to justify its decision in light of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which deals with discrimination.

The Charity Commission argued that children’s best interests are served by providing as wide a pool of potential adopters as possible, that gay people were suitable parents, and that religious views did not justify discrimination in cases where taxpayers’ money is involved.

Catholic Care must now either change its policies—a move that might result in its losing funding from the Church—or stop arranging new adoptions. It might, however, continue on as an adoption support agency, offering services to those who were adopted in the past.

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