Bid to block gays adopting fails
A Catholic adoption service was facing closure after it lost its latest battle with the Charity Commission for the right to be able to discriminate against gay couples.
Leeds-based Catholic Care applied on religious grounds to be allowed to offer its adoption-support services to heterosexual prospective parents only.
But the independent regulator for charities in England and Wales found against Catholic Care, following objections from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which said such discrimination breached the European Convention on Human Rights.
Catholic Care won a High Court judgment in March which allowed an appeal against a decision of the Charity Tribunal in June last year which had upheld the Charity Commission's original decision not to allow it to discriminate. Catholic Care said it had to bar gay couples from its adoption assessment and advice service if it was to retain its funding from the Roman Catholic church. It had a policy of only helping married heterosexual couples to adopt.
No one at Catholic Care, which serves the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough, and Hallam in South Yorkshire, was available to comment.
But during its failed plea to the Charity Commission, Catholic Care said if it lost its case it would close its adoption service rather than risk losing its connection with the church.
A Charity Commission spokeswoman said Catholic Care may now cease its adoption service - which represents only around 5% of the charity's annual spending - or it could change its policy on gay couples, in line with the law, and carry on.
Catholic Care's other activities include residential care for children, "supported living" for adults with learning difficulties or mental health issues, counselling in schools, support for vulnerable people and work with older people.
In a statement, the Charity Commission acknowledged Catholic Care offered a "valuable, high quality adoption service". But it decided it had not demonstrated "sufficiently convincing and weighty reasons" for only offering its services to heterosexuals.
A spokeswoman for the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: "We are pleased that both the High Court and Charity Commission accepted our arguments when coming to their decision. The law is carefully weighted to balance the rights of organisations such as religious charities and the rights of minority groups such as those with a particular sexual orientation. We believe the outcome in this case helps reinforce that balance."