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U.K: Catholic Agency Can’t Discriminate

U.K: Catholic Agency Can’t Discriminate

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A U.K. Catholic adoption agency has lost its fight to be exempted from laws banning discrimination against same-sex couples as prospective parents, London's Guardian reports.

Catholic Care, based in Leeds, wanted to opt out of the Sexual Orientation Regulations, enacted in 2007, requiring publicly funded adoption providers to consider gay couples on an equal footing with straight ones. On Tuesday, the nation's Charity Tribunal ruled that Catholic Care cannot be exempted, upholding an earlier ruling by the Charity Commission.

The bishop of Leeds, the Right Reverend Arthur Roche (pictured), had claimed private donations to Catholic Care would plunge if it were forced to serve gay couples. The tribunal, however, found no evidence to back this up.

"There was evidence before the tribunal that some Catholics do offer financial support to adoption agencies which provide services to same-sex adopters but no evidence from the charity that it had considered how it might attract alternative financial supporters if it did not discriminate," the tribunal's ruling said. It also emphasized the "detriment to same-sex couples and the detriment to society generally of permitting the discrimination proposed."

After the decision was issued, Roche told reporters he was disappointed and feared that "the most vulnerable children" would suffer because of it. "It is an important point of principle that the charity should be able to prepare potential adoptive parents according to the tenets of the Catholic faith," he added.

When the regulations were put in place, the Catholic hierarchy claimed that the nation's 11 Catholic adoption agencies would close if forced to comply. The Guardian reports that some have indeed closed, but others have severed their ties with the church and continued to operate.

Gay rights group Stonewall praised Tuesday's decision, saying agencies that receive public funding should not be able to "pick and choose their service users on the basis of individual prejudice." Read more here.

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