THE trustees of a Roman Catholic adoption agency, Catholic Care,
are considering taking their long-running legal fight to the Court
of Appeal, after losing their latest attempt to restrict its
services to married heterosexual couples.
The Charity Commission has twice rejected applications from
Catholic Care to amend its constitution so that it could be exempt
from equality laws that prohibit discrimination on grounds of
sexual orientation. The High Court ordered the commission to
reconsider its position in 2010 (
News, 24 March 2010); but it again rejected the application.
This was upheld by the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) last year (
News, 5 May 2011).
This week, the Upper Tribunal, while critical of some of the
FTT's reasoning, upheld its decision, saying: "The national
authorities, in particular Parliament, have established a very
clear framework of equality law which makes discrimination on
grounds of sexual orientation unlawful. . .
"The fact that same-sex couples could seek to have access to
adoption services offered elsewhere tended to reduce somewhat the
immediate detrimental effect on them, but it did not remove the
harm that would be caused to them through feeling that
discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation was practised at
some point in the adoption system."
Catholic Care, the social-services arm of the RC diocese of
Leeds, says it will continue to support existing parents and
children, but is no longer selecting or training couples to become
adoptive parents. Before stopping its work, it provided about ten
families a year for hard- to-place children, and was recognised as
an "agency of last resort".
The charity says that its legal fight has been funded by
individual benefactors, a legacy, and a Christian legal fund. "We
thank all of those who have, and continue to, assist . . . with