Thursday, 19 August 2010
Adoption charity: discrimination no longer permitted
A Catholic adoption charity has failed in its appeal to be allowed to discriminate against gay people when it comes to finding homes for children. Leeds-based Catholic Care wanted exemption from new anti-discrimination laws so it could limit services provided to homosexual couples on religious grounds.
The Charity Commission quite rightly thought this nonsense, justifying its decision on the observation that gay people were suitable parents and that religious views did not justify discrimination. Catholic Care said that the judgement was "very disappointing".
The judgement itself came about after a dozen Catholic agencies in England and Wales were forced to change their policy towards homosexual people by equality laws passed in 2007. Catholic Care had previously argued that the new rules went against the Catholic Church's teachings on marriage and family life.
It is a good thing that we live in a society that is broadly tolerant of different religious faiths, and it would be reasonable to argue that no religious group suffers genuine persecution on grounds of their faith in the United Kingdom.
But that does not mean that the intolerance and discrimination that seems to be inherent in so many religions should be allowed to dictate - or demand exemption from - our secular laws designed to challenge that very discrimination. If there is no evidence that gay couples cannot provide a stable family home for children then it would be unreasonable to prevent that from happening on the basis of belief and nothing else.
There is another - and perhaps more important - outcome to this decision. By arguing that gay couples cannot constitute proper parents Catholic Care are guilty of suggesting to children that discrimination on the basis of sexuality is acceptable. This outcome will now make this indoctrination of intolerance that little bit harder.