Catholic adoption agencies seek ways round gay rules

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Claims by the Roman Catholic Church that the government would be offering money to help them avoid new regulations in their adoption agencies have been dismissed by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

In a statement issued last week on the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales website, they claim the government will “pay for further work to be done to explore whether within the law there might yet be ways found which will enable the adoption work to carry on and for our agencies to continue.”

Earlier this year the Sexual Orientation Regulations came into force, making it illegal to discriminate against gay, lesbian and bisexual people when providing goods and services, including adoption agencies.

The Roman Catholic Church tried to get an opt-out from the regulations for their adoption agencies, but after a Cabinet row they were unsuccessful.

The Church was given 18 months to adjust its practices so that it can allow gay couples to adopt from its agencies or close them down.

A spokesperson from the DCSF told “We don’t provide money to get around government regulations.

“The funding is being made available for grants to all voluntary adoption agencies in England and Wales.

“It is being made available for a specific purpose: to enable voluntary adoption agencies to access the legal, financial and/or human resource advice they need to maintain and/or develop their family-finding services for `difficult to place’ children, including as a result of changes to the legislative context within which they work.”

Reverand Martin Reynolds, from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and himself an adoptive parent, thinks that the agencies should be honest and acknowlede that they have been “allowing gay couples to adopt for years but with only one of the partners registering as the parent.

“The great work that they do should be preserved,” he added.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall said: “We are delighted that the adoption agencies are required to comply with the law.

“We trust that agencies, that are already in financial difficulty, will not use the cloak of compliance with the law as an excuse for closure.”

MP Chris Bryant, a former Anglican priest, said that he thought the “dogmatic position of the Catholic Church is unnecessary.

“Some very difficult children have found loving homes in gay couples,” he added.