Gay charity furious at local MPs over adoption

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Intercom Trust has criticised MPs from the south west of England for signing an Early Day Motion calling for a exemption from anti-discrimination legislation for Roman Catholic adoption agencies.

As reported on last week, Teignbridge MP Richard Younger-Ross tabled the motion in the House of Commons. The Lib Dem was supported by party colleague Colin Breed (South East Cornwall) and Tory Gary Streeter (South West Devon).

The trust, an LGBT resource operating in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset, has said the local MPs exercised bad judgement.

“The religious demands for exemptions appear to be prompted entirely by ignorance and prejudice,” said Dr Michael Halls, executive director of the trust.

“It is very worrying to find local MPs, who could so easily inform themselves about the real issues from local community resources, putting themselves at risk of being associated in their constituents’ minds with this kind of silly prejudice.

“The Roman Catholic church’s position is not only based on prejudice but also strangely inconsistent.

“They don’t want their adoption agencies to have to treat same-sex couples on an equal basis with married couples, but they are apparently happy to go on placing children with single lesbians and gay men.”

The motion in support of a Catholic exemption from Richard Younger-Ross, which so far has been signed by 18 other MPs, became redundant when Prime Minister Tony Blair announced on Monday that the government would not be granting the opt-out.

Instead, adoption agencies will be given until the end of 2008 to adjust to the new Sexual Orientation Regulations, which outlaw discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual people when they are accessing goods and services.

Mr Younger-Ross told earlier this week:

“This is an act of cowardice from the Prime Minister. This is an issue that should have been debated in Parliament, not stitched up in the smoke-filled corridors of Westminster.”

The new regulations will be debated in Parliament next month, and are expected to become law by April.

The Intercom Trust provides a confidential phone line, advocacy, information and support for local LGBT groups and run an anti-homophobic bullying campaign in the South West.

“People like myself who have lived for half a century in a profoundly discriminatory society are anxious that fairness and equality shouldn’t be watered down by exemptions conceded to religious prejudice and muddle as a result of threats,” commented Dr Halls.

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