A Catholic adoption agency in Britain has ended its service of placing children in new homes because a new anti-discrimination law forbids the agency from turning away homosexual couples. A Minister of Parliament has said the new law “smacks of a secular attack on the Catholic Church.”
The Equality Act, which will come into effect on January 1, outlaws discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services. Then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has since converted to Catholicism, wanted Catholic adoption agencies to be exempted from the rules.
Directors of the Catholic Children’s Rescue Society (CCRS), which has been in operation since 1886, say the new legislation forces them to stop recruiting, assessing, or approving couples who want to adopt children, according to the Telegraph. While other British adoption agencies have cut their ties to the Catholic Church to continue their service, the CCRS cannot do so because it is closely linked with the Diocese of Salford.
“The decision has been taken with regret by the trustees who have been fully informed all the way along,” said CCRS director Kathy Batt. "We did not want to separate from the diocese as other agencies have, though that is no criticism of them."
The CCRS will become the first adoption agency to stop offering its services. It will merge with local Catholic welfare groups to provide care homes for children, homeless shelters, and support for adoptive parents.
Jim Dobbin, a Catholic Labor Party MP in Manchester, lamented the action.
"It is a tragedy,” Dobbin said, according to the Telegraph. “There is a shortage of people willing to adopt generally in the country and there is something very wrong when some of the better and more efficient agencies feel they have to close because they can't conform to what the Government is demanding.”
"I don't think there was any need for this legislation at all. It was forced through and was all done to avoid discrimination but all it has done is to introduce discrimination against agencies that operate according to the principles of a religious faith.
"The Government will rue the day when it pursued this line of action. It smacks of a secular attack on the Catholic Church."