This week the last Catholic adoption agency in the UK has been forced to cease adoptions following the ruling of the Charity Commission. Catholic Care, a Leeds-based social care organization, only offers adoption services to heterosexual married couples. The Commission has ruled that their religious views do not justify its refusal to place children with homosexual couples. Gay rights campaigners may see this result as a victory, but I believe it reflects a growing trend of trampling on religious groups’ liberties and will mean young, vulnerable children will lose out.
Catholic Care has been offering adoption services for over 100 years, successfully placing children with families and offering post-adoption support services. It has a much better record than a lot of adoption agencies run purely by local authorities and receives its funding from the Catholic Church. By removing the agency’s right to offer adoption to heterosexual couples only, the Commission has effectively cut off funding for this service, as the Church will not give money to support a service that acts contrary to their beliefs. As a result, orphans and vulnerable children will lose out as a respected provider of these services is forced to close. It remains to be seen whether other agencies will be able to increase their provision in the area to make up for this.
Secondly, although the agency chooses not to help homosexual couples adopt, it does not actively prohibit it or encourage homophobia of any sort. Catholic Care is not stopping gay people adopting, it is just refusing to be forced into helping them do so. Homosexual couples are free to adopt using other adoption service providers in the area.
Lastly it’s wrong that, for the sake of the government’s crusade against discrimination, this quango is ending the good work Catholic Care do in the community. Their decision will bring no benefit to the local community and only continues to stoke concern over the growing limitations the government is placing on religious groups who seek to serve the community in accordance with their convictions. Our religious liberties are important civil liberties that must not be treated as an inconvenience or inferior to the apparent greater God of anti-discrimination laws. Therefore the Charity Commission’s decision represents a saddening defeat. As Pope Benedict XVI argues, it imposes unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs and ultimately results in a less free society.