Another kick in the teeth for the ‘Equalities’ brigade today, with the news that Catholic Care, representing Leeds, Middlesbrough and Hallam, won an appeal to allow them to select prospective foster-carers according to the tenets of the Catholic faith. Ironically, it seems the legal loophole upon which Catholic Care made their case (Regulation 18) was originally designed to protect homosexual charities from legal action when they discriminated against heterosexuals. Either way, the judge accepted that the adoption services provide an essential public benefit despite their refusal to place children with homosexual couples, and upon those grounds could make use of the Regulation and continue to operate.
And the usual suspects are not happy.
Terry Sanderson, totalitarian-in-chief at the National Secular Society, said ‘It is unfortunate that the court has enabled Catholic Care to exploit what was obviously an error in the drafting of the equality legislation. The loophole this created was never intended to be used this way.’ Which, roughly translated, means that the discrimination of the original Bill was only ever meant to be a one way street, and by using their own pernicious tools against them these damned Christians just aren’t playing fair.
Jonathan Finney, of Stonewall, said ‘It’s unthinkable that anyone engaged in delivering any kind of public or publicly funded service should be given licence to pick and choose service users on the basis of individual prejudice.’ Which is, of course, sheer nonsense. You try adopting a child whilst admitting you smoke (perfectly legal) or are willing to smack a child if necessary (perfectly legal), and just see how far you get. Though that term ‘service users’, as opposed to mother and father, probably gives an important insight into the deep-rooted ideological differences here.
Finney further goes on to say, ‘”It’s clearly in the best interests of children in care to encourage as wide a pool of potential adopters as possible.’ Which is so astonishingly disingenuous that one is inclined to think that Mr Finney must have had a smirk on his face as he uttered it. Trying to ply the ‘this is all about the children’ line won’t wash, especially when you’ve happily watched Catholic adoption agencies go to the wall simply because they refused to bow down to your own political agenda. As was argued at the appeal,
‘For those children, usually of the “hard to place” category, Catholic Care was the adoption agency of last resort for the local authorities concerned, whose practice was to have recourse to Catholic Care only when all other avenues for the identification of willing and suitable adoptive parents had failed. But for Catholic Care’s work in that field, those children would therefore not have been adopted that year or, probably, at all.’
In other words, try telling the children who no longer benefit from the services of many Catholic adoption agencies that this battle was really fought on the grounds of their best interests – they might be inclined to think otherwise.
Of course, what this was really about was control-freakery by a narrow-minded group of zealots. As George Pitcher points out, ‘The only criteria that should apply here are whether these Catholic adoption services are doing a good job and whether there is diversity and pluralism in adoption services, so that couples of all sorts (and in some cases individuals) have a wide range of options for adoption advice.’ In other words, there are plenty of places homosexual couples could go if they wanted to adopt, and they are more than adequately provided for. Sheer spite was the prime driver here – and thank God the standard has been raised against it.
Of course, one has to mourn those Catholic adoption agencies who didn’t have the belly for the fight, and chose to comply with the manifestly unjust legislation. Let’s hope that this judgement proves the shot in the arm that was needed – and more come forward and pile pressure on the ‘Charities Commission’ to uphold the decision.