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Catholic Care loses its five-year legal battle

By on Friday, 2 November 2012

Childhood and Family Life

The adoption agency Catholic Care has lost its five year fight to reserve its services for heterosexual couples only, in a landmark court ruling.

The adoption agency based in Leeds, had taken its case to the Upper Tribunal in order to win the right to maintain charitable status while being permitted to refuse to place children with same-sex couples, in accordance with the charity’s Catholic ethos.

However, they were defeated today as the Charity Commission argued that the charity’s stance is “divisive, capricious and arbitrary” and undermined the dignity of homosexual couples whose parenting abilities are “beyond question”.

The tribunal concluded that Catholic Care had failed to come up with “weighty and convincing reasons” as to why the agency should be allowed to discriminate against gay couples who were trying to access their services.

Emma Dixon, who was representing the Charity Commission, told tribunal judge, Mr Justic Sales, that Catholic Care’s desried arrangement would violate Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which outlaws discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and other characteristics. She said: “A requirement to operate within the tenets of the Church cannot constitute Article 14 justification.

“To do so would be to offer protection to the substance of the Church’s belief that homosexuality is sinful.

“To do so would not only be divisive, capricious and arbitrary, it would be excluding from assessment couples whose personal qualities and aptitude for child-rearing are beyond question.”

She added: “There is, as the charity now accepts, no basis whatsoever for calling into question the skills and abilities of same-sex couples as adoptive parents, including as parents of ‘hard to place’ children…it is not necessary to exclude same-sex couples in order to find suitable and loving adoptive parents for children.

“Indeed, the reverse is true. To excluse from assessment same-sex couple’s whose personal qualities and aptitude for child rearing are beyond question would be to allow considerations favouring marriage to prevail over the best interests of the chlid, which would be neither objectively justified nor proportionate.”

But Monica Carss-Frisk QC, who represented Catholic Care, argued that the Commission’s focus put the needs of children second and said it was “tantamount to putting the interests of the helper before those of the helpless”.

  • John McCarthy

    Love your enemies,pray for those who persecute you.

  • Chris McLaughlin

    Would love to see the people invilved simply refuse to abide by the ruling. An immoral law ought not to be obeyed.

  • Tom Jones


  • paulpriest

    They have ONLY themselves to blame after they contravened Church guidelines by allowing unmarried couples to adopt.

    Any justification against homosexual couple adoption was axiomatically undermined and seen for what it was – institutionalised hypocrisy and homophobia.

    There is an absolute necessity for a perpetual continuous relationship between adopters and adoptee. Any individual adopter can give this but when it comes to couples they must be an expressly committed union bound with unbreakable bonds in a continually sustained, refreshed and nurtured physical/spiritual complementary union.

    i.e. only a holism – an individual or a married couple should be allowed to adopt…for thus it can be discerned and deliberated that the child will be in a relationship which cannot be severed.

    Unmarried heterosexual couples should not have been permitted to adopt – but catholic Care chose to do otherwise and hence when homosexual partners wished the same on identical terms – they had no moral justification to oppose it – merely relativist, pragmatic issues of taste…

    As for Justice Sales comments?
    Redolent of Anna Soubry’s reneging on Government promises on abortion counselling
    -  “facts don’t matter, promises don’t matter, principles don’t matter – we are in power so we can do what we want – and as at present I’m in the chair? what I say goes!!!!”

  • Guest

    “‘the right to maintain charitable status’ …in accordance with the charity’s Catholic ethos”: of course it should,the Charity Commission lawyer and the Tribunal judge are wrong.

  • 12Maria34

    If Catholic Care really wants to help and really with a Catholic heart, just operate privately under Catholic ethos without “charitable status” for tax purposes. 

  • Patrickhowes

    And who allowed them to wander in the dark for so long HE Cormack!He was a bit like Chamberlain who thought he could make peace with the Nai´s so did our Grand man thought by sucking up to No 10 he would negotiate a peaceful outcome for the Church.Are the lessons of history not there to be learned.Paul your last paragraph sums up beautifully the reign of our Rome appointed former leader.

  • Kevin

    loses its 5 year legal battle

    A legal, as opposed to a factual dispute, is not a matter of proof. It is a matter of power: my gavel, my rules. It is wrong to describe these as “losses” or “defeats”. A more appropriate investigation of the facts may in future lead to more meaningful headlines, such as the following:
    “Bitter anti-Catholic vindicates three years of law school plus training to deliver horribly immoral verdict. Children exploited as a consequence.”

    Then it would be clearer what the Catholic conscience should do next.

  • Ghengis

    If British judges can’t see that a child is better off with a family made up of a married man and woman then one must ask how his attitude was developed? why does a judge not see the obvious? Its because the radical Left has taken over academia and the media; this while conservatives are too afraid to speak up for fear of the PC police. Whoever holds the strongest conviction wins, regardless of whether they are right or not.

  • Jlw509

    But what are the legal requirements for certification as an agency?  Can they be licensed at all without the requisite “charitable status”?  I agree they should try every possible morally licit option. I wonder if that would require going entirely outside the law: engaging in what the govt. would label “black-market adoptions”? 

  • Acleron

    Perhaps because a judge, quite rightly, thinks that facts are evidence and all else is not.

    Just because you cannot see that children do just as well with same sex parents as heterosexual parents isn’t a reason for believing you.

  • Neil Addison

     If the Agency operated as a Non Charity then it would still be governed by the Equality Act and would still be obliged to provide adoption services to Same Sex Couples.  The Equality Act did offer a possible option to allow a Charitable Agency not to provide adoption services to Same Sex Couples but only if this was in conformity with its Charitable objects

  • whytheworldisending

    The legitimate aim is the protection of children from
    harm. Objective data shows that homosexuals are much more likely to sexually
    abuse children. Therefore it is proportionate for all adoptive agencies and
    other public bodies to deny adoptive parents unsupervised access to children.
    It cannot be disputed that the Catholic Church genuinely holds to this
    proposition, since it has itself taken the radical step of denying homosexuals entrance
    to the priesthood. Some Catholics regard that measure as perhaps too stringent
    given that it applies even to non-practicing, that is celibate, homosexual
    candidates. Although many otherwise excellent candidates will be turned away,
    the stark fact is that the safety of children comes first, and the Church has
    its priorities right. Now a stricter application of the rule would be appropriate
    in the case of adoption for 2 reasons. Firstly, would-be adoptive parents in
    same-sex relationships do not recognize the need to restrain their impulses,
    since, unlike candidates for the priesthood, they are not celibate but actively
    indulging their homosexual urges. Secondly they seek to have exclusive,
    unsupervised and unhindered access to other people’s children, which is a
    degree of access far greater than that given to any priest. The Church
    therefore seeks, in the light of objective evidence, to protect children from
    the increased threat of abuse posed by allowing practicing homosexuals
    unlimited access to the most vulnerable. The protection of children is a legitimate
    aim and the policy of Catholic Care in this regard is for the pursuit of that
    legitimate aim and goes no further than is necessary. It is justified on
    objective grounds and proportionate to a legitimate aim.


    At paragraph 17, Mr Justice Sales points out that local
    authorities were not only unconcerned about this, but viewed homosexuals as a
    ready method of disposing of children who nobody else wanted. He says, “The
    responses and other research indicated that same sex couples could themselves
    provide a good source of adopters of “hard to place” children (para. [51]).   Homosexuals are seen by local authorities as
    the solution to their administrative problems, and once again we see that bureaucratic
    machinations of local authorities takes precedence over the interests of the
    people they are supposed to be caring for. However it is well known from cases
    such as the Fred West “House of Horrors” cases and the Wrexham Social Services
    abuse prosecutions involving scores of as yet unknown household names who are
    homosexuals, that such predators deliberately seek those totally neglected
    children because nobody is watching over them. The other chilling thing about these
    cases is that homosexual abuse is more organised being dominated by men whose
    reputations are beyond question as long as they enjoy the protection of fellow
    male conspirators. Indeed even now a judge’s order is protecting the identities
    of the 100 or so alleged perpetrators in the Wrexham abuse ring. It is beyond
    question that there are serious and weighty grounds for discriminating between
    heterosexual and homosexual people when placing children for adoption. Over the
    entrance to the Old Bailey a reminder is inscribed about the role of judges, in
    the words, “Defend the children of the poor and punish the wrongdoer.” This
    judgement is an abusers’ charter which abandons the children of the poor and
    protects the wrongdoers.


    At paragraph 18, Mr Justice Sales refers to Dr Selwyn’s
    evidence that there is an oversupply of adoptive parents, from voluntary
    agencies, which local authorities are not able to use to the full. The Dr
    argues that the contribution of Catholic Care would therefore not be missed.
    However, Dr Selwyn is wrong when she concludes that the presence or absence of
    Catholic Care would “be unlikely to result in more children in need of adoption
    to in fact be adopted.” This is not a complex matter of law, but simple arithmetic.
    The numbers of children adopted from voluntary agencies is equal to the numbers
    of children proposed by those agencies multiplied by the rate at which local authorities
    adopt from those agencies. If an agency goes out of business, then either the
    numbers of children adopted will go down, or the rate at which local
    authorities adopt from remaining agencies will go up. The latter means that
    local authorities – presently “wary about using voluntary adoption agencies,” –
    will have been forced to relax their criteria in relation to agencies that do
    not go out of business. Even leaving aside the fact that such agencies will be prepared
    to place vulnerable children with practicing homosexuals, this relaxation of
    safeguards in relation to agencies which local authorities were previously “wary
    about,” represents an increased risk to children. Dr Selwyn’s reasoning might
    be sound if applied to an agency placing no children at all for adoption, but
    Catholic Care successfully placed about 10 children each year, and it would be
    wrong to say that the same argument is relevant because 10 is a relatively small
    number. Like the small boy who was challenged when seen throwing starfish back
    into the sea from the thousands lying on the shore waiting to be eaten by seagulls;
    in reply to the officious bystander’s assertion that the problem was so vast, his
    actions made no difference, he threw another back and said, “It made a difference
    to that one.”  Of course a bureaucrat, concerned
    only about clearing the beach of starfish, would reply that the boy’s services
    were not required since the seagulls do a perfectly good job.


    At paragraph 25, Mr Justice Sales notes the finding of
    the Tribunal that “…the legitimate aim identified by the Charity was not in
    fact one that would be achieved by its proposed method.” However, shifting attention,
    away from bureaucratic problems of local government in clearing the backlog of
    unplaced children, and towards ensuring the safety of the children concerned, the
    underlying and truly legitimate aim of safeguarding children can only be
    achieved by the method proposed by Catholic Care, since even absenting itself
    from adoption services puts children at risk by forcing local authorities to
    relax their safeguarding criteria in order to achieve a higher placement rate
    from those remaining agencies, of a necessarily atheistic bent, who are allowed
    to operate under the current regime.


    At paragraph 34, Ms Dixon, speaking for the Commission, is
    quoted as saying that Catholic Care’s pursuit of its aims is not proportionate
    because it goes further than it needs to by failing to make an exception for a
    hypothetical “celibate committed devout
    same-sex Catholic couple.” That is questionable for 2 reasons. Firstly neither
    the local authority nor the agency has any means of verifying that a couple is
    celibate, so it is something that any potential abuser could claim in order to
    bypass the rules. Secondly, the “celibate
    committed devout same-sex Catholic couple” is a contradiction in terms and
    does not exist in reality. People who wish to remain celibate do not deliberately
    put themselves in temptations way by cohabiting with another person whom they
    harbour sexual feelings for, and celibate or not, anybody claiming to be a
    Catholic whilst publicly living in a manner which is contrary to the Church’s
    teachings and to the Gospel, is not an adherent of the Catholic faith. Same-sex
    partnerships are against Church teachings and therefore it is not rational to propose,
    even for the sake of argument, that there is such a thing as a “celibate committed devout same-sex Catholic


    At paragraph 38, Mr Justice Sale spells out the position clearly,
    when he says that if,

    “…some real detriment to
    the general public interest (of sufficient weight) might arise unless a practice
    discriminating against them were adopted, then in principle it is possible
    under Article 14 and under section 193 of the Equality Act for such a practice
    to be found to be proportionate to the legitimate aim of preventing that
    detriment or harm and hence objectively justified.” The real detriment to
    the general public interest arises when the most vulnerable children in society
    are not protected from the greatly increased risk of sexual abuse posed by
    allowing practicing homosexuals to have unfettered access to them.


     Mr Justice Sales, at
    paragraph 70, completely rejected that argument, made – rather unwisely on the
    face of it – by the Commission. He states at paragraph 50, “There can be no doubt that the interests of
    children in need is a very powerful consideration in the context of this
    analysis.” He is right of course. It is exactly because children need
    protection from sexual abuse that Catholic Care and other right-thinking agencies
    ought to be allowed to continue as they were.


    Incidentally, at paragraph 11, Mr Justice Sales says, “In
    his judgment, Briggs J interpreted Regulation 18 as a provision which implemented
    Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (prohibition of
    discrimination), so as to permit justification of differential treatment of
    heterosexuals and homosexuals if undertaken for a legitimate aim and in a
    manner where the means employed are proportionate to the aim sought to be
    realised.” However the Convention itself is not part of English Law, and is not
    in itself directly binding on judges. Article 14 is not “implemented” in the
    same way that European Directives are. The Human Rights Act 1998 merely
    requires that judges “have regard to” the Convention when reaching their
    decisions. A judge regarding a Convention Article as binding on him is
    effectively fettering his discretion and his decision may be appealed on the
    grounds that he misdirected himself in law.

  • 12Maria34

    I do not know how to run a business in UK but I know  little bit here in US as I run one before.  We have what we call Equal Opportunity Act but this applies to employee – employer relationship.  I might be wrong here.  If Catholic Care will be a private business then its product is “service” … the service of providing a child to childless couple.  We have a saying “we have the right to reject a customer”.  I do this.  I do this when I do not like projects or owners of the projects.  In this sense, I would say that Catholic Care will have the right to reject customers … homosexual couples … but I think Catholic Care will have to define its mission and vision as a private identity. On my part, it is easier said than done.   At the end, I think it is best to trust God’s hand in all of these.

  • midnightblue

    I believe the bed and breakfast couple who refused a room to a same sex cople are back in business. They set up a limited company with articles which are congruent with their beliefs. Maybe Catholic Care could look into this. Donations would not attract tax relief of course but perhaps their good work could continue on a different business model. Are there any creative lawyers out there?

  • BM

    Despicable.  Placing children intentionally with moral delinquents is a crime.  The fact that those who want to protect them from such malformation are now crushed under the law shows the absurdity of our age.  Unbelievable.

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    Is adopting children as a private arrangement possible …or do authorities have to be involved constantly.  That gives them too much power.  There must be some way around this….which places the welfare of children above any other consideration.

    Don’t give up please Bishops.  Please fight this twisted secular establishement all the way.  They’ve had their own way for too long at the expense of children and their sanctuary…heterosexual marriage.

  • midnightblue

    I thought I might set up a new limited company called Catholic Kare. It would offer 2 products/ services.

    I)Adoption services for couples in authentic marriages…price £10
    II)Life affirming pregnancy counselling ….price £10

    Low interest loans and deferred payment terms available on request.
    Free membership of support group.
    Access to financial support for single mothers through Catholic Kare credit union.

  • scary goat

    As far as I know, in custody battles etc.  the law says that the first priority is the rights of the child/ren, not the rights of the parents.  The child should be placed with the parent who is best able to provide for the child’s well being.  Also courts give visiting rights to the other parent, again to provide balance for the children having access to both parents.  Except in severe cases, it is not about who was to blame for the divorce etc.  It is about the well being of the child.  So why is this “all important” rule about the well-being of the child/ren taking second place to “gay rights”? 

  • James

    Catholic Care’s stance is “divisive, capricious and arbitrary” and undermined the dignity of homosexual couples whose parenting abilities are “beyond question”.
    Says it all really, doesn’t it?

  • oouchan

    Amazing that they used facts to defeat homophobia. Good call. Children need love and guidance  Same-Sex couples have been shown to do that as well as any other hetero couple. 

  • Equality within religion

    I so agree, there really is no divorce!!! Silly man, all relationships can fail, whether married or not, it’s about time church and all religion decided that loving all others should be their main and most important rule. Every person should be equal. (i know more people who are unmarried and been with their partner for many years, than the people who got married and are still together – many have divorced….the unmarried people also include gay couples!)

  • equalitywithinreligion

    Does the church realise that it is the 21st Century and i’m sure that god would only condemn haters and bigots. So glad that a judge has said this is unlawful. Equality is needed and the church need to realise that more people are turning away from them due to their medieval thinking. God is love and said we should all love each other….how can the church say they do this when they turn away gay people. (I am a straight ally)

  • Stuff

    Actually, objective data shows the opposite, and the rest of your cherry picked quotes shows a general problem with your understanding of what you’re reading. Maybe try fact checking before spouting nonsense.

  • Guest

    >>>So why is this “all important” rule about the well-being of the child/ren taking second place to “gay rights”? <<<
    It's not, that is exactly what they are saying. Reading comprehension anybody?

  • equalitywithinreligion

    Really, i knew that bigotry was still rife within the church, but stupidity also appears to be the way forward! I guess you live in a place where everything is ideal. Well, in the real world i know more people who are not married, same-sex or single who have children and i have to categorically state that their children are so much better off. There are more children out there with divorced parents who are more messed up. I have seen no difference in children who come from a home with a man/woman marriage and those who live with unmarried, same-sex and single families. Time you came into the 21st Century and put the bigotry and hatred behind you, stop being scared of change and please stop hiding it all behind religion. Especially one that has killed and murdered millions of people throughout its short history!

  • PaulL

     What makes you think a child is better off with a family with mixed-gender parents? Where’s your evidence for that?

  • fuzzywuzznt

    found a t-shirt for you

  • Rach

     I’m pretty sure that it would be illegal to deny service to someone because they’re gay in the US, and it definitely is in the UK. You have the right to reject customers, but not because of their race, religion, sexuality, marital status or any disability – these are all protected characteristics under UK law.

  • Rach

     Sorry, you’re wrong. Refusing people because of their sexuality is the crime, not placing children with loving parents who happen to disagree with your religion. You may think that it’s a sin, but to be a crime it has to be the government you answer to.
    Also, who is the greater moral delinquent: the homosexual, or the person who will bring their child up to distrust or even hate people purely based on who they love?

  • Kersi Nana

    “…putting the interests of the helper before those of the helpless.” – yes, that´s absolutely what religious people always do … but i guess “helper” is not the correct word – better would be oppressor

  • http://www.facebook.com/teri.d.springer Teri Donovan Springer

    And a law should not be ignored by immoral agencies. A loving home is and should be, the first priority. Whether that is a home with one man and one woman, a single man, a single woman or two men or two women, is immaterial.

  • http://www.facebook.com/teri.d.springer Teri Donovan Springer

    Please support your ignorant statement that a child is better off in a family made up of a man and a woman….I would suggest that a child is better off in a home where he or she is loved and cherished regardless of whether the home is one with one man and one woman, a single man, a single woman, two men or two women. I can cite studies that support this. Can you cite any recent (within the last 5 years) that support your stance??

  • Vic Matos

    Neither should an immoral religion…

  • Acleron

    Baseless assertion.

    Show the evidence you have that demonstrates that children brought up by same sex couples are malformed.

  • http://twitter.com/spookiewon Pjay (Patti) Pender

    They are still free to choose not to place with gay couples. Doing so will only affect their tax-exempt status. The only catholic organization I can respect are the Catholic Workers, because they don’t accept tax-exempt status because it would compromise their freedom to exercise their beliefs. I have no objection to whatever restrictions Catholic Care wishes to place on adoptive couples, as long as they are not a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization. 

  • http://twitter.com/spookiewon Pjay (Patti) Pender

    Nothing in the ruling prevents them from using whatever criteria they choose for placement. But they cannot continue to be tax-exempt and discriminate against gays. All they have to do is give up their 501(c)3 status and they are free to choose not to place children with otherwise qualified gay couples. How is it immoral to expect taxpayer supported agencies to follow anti-discrimination laws? Gays are taxpayers too.

  • 12Maria34

    In business, you talk about money. The rest is negotiated. This is the reason that charitable institution will have a hard time converting to a private business. There are Catholic adoption centers here in US that closed shop because at the end catholic adoption center works for what is best for the child. Couples who want to adopt usually goes to “church” affliated adoption agencies (not just catholic) and not to private businesses as the child is treated like any “product” to be sold. Studies show that church affliated adoption centers placed children in a better family environment and children grow up to have better chances. This is not about equality (in reality, there is really no such thing as equal. A good analogy is our hand … five fingers, same source but different sizes and shapes, each has its own purpose) as we do not hold what is the future of these children. If we really want a better world then we have to take care of children as they are the future. As adults, it is our responsibility to make sure children have chances in life. Sometimes, it is not just equality but sacrifices just as our Blessed Lord on the Cross. As any normal child, he/she needs an adult to emulate with 2 views, man and woman, a proper perspective of both supplementary and complementary relationship. The future which I will not have the chance to experience will be the children’s problem. They will correct what needs to be corrected of what our current decisions now. “Man” is basically good as we are in the image and likeness of God. In business, we say that the market will correct itself and I would say, the little ones of today will correct the society as they are the bearers of the decisions of today. I trust in God’s great mercy and kindness. 

  • Paul

    Please stop spouting nonsense yourself.

  • Paul

    My wife and I frequently talk about returning to Britain to live.  Each time the issue comes up, I think of the barren political agenda that dominates discourse there, and the subject gets changed.  It looks like it will be Hong Kong for many years to come.  Here you can go months on end without homosexual political fanaticism being shoved in your face.

  • http://twitter.com/ThundalArchsys Thundal Archsys

     Sorry, if you consider this immoral your definition of morality is not based on objectively providing for the youth of tomorrow in the best ways possible, which means it’s invalid.

    Do us all a favor and actually back your statement, or try to like these idiots did, so we can shut you down properly~

  • Charles Martel

     Or one man and his dog, or three men in a tub

  • Charles Martel

    Catholics are taxpayers, too, and yet we see public money used to promote queer causes up and down the country…

  • Jonathan

    Promotion – your word – suggests raising above. What the law establishes and requires is equality with no-one raised above, just equal, how is that promotion? I suppose that the law does require that gay people no longer be given an inferior status to other human beings and so raised from an inferior status but to object to that is to say that homosexuals are inferior human beings, which is clearly wrong and surely not something you would promote.

  • Sweetjae

    “Loving” should NOT be the only criteria here, it must be based on Natural moral order, if not, why not siblings can marry? Why not the owner and his dog or cat if he so desires? Why should we have minor law? Who determines the age limit? Why not lower than 15? If a man has a “loving” tendencies towards a 16 year old person? Or why prohibit minors to buy liqueurs ?

  • Sweetjae

    Because gay marriage is NOT equal with heterosexual marriage. The former is Unnatural not based on any Natural, Biological, Procreation for the sake of continuity of the species and any Moral order that the latter is based solidly upon.

  • Sweetjae

    So what is the standard of your morality? Yourself? Are you saying that the moral standard of Hitler is the same as of Churchill? Who determines? Could you enlighten us?

  • JabbaPapa

    I see, and I suppose that you imagine that there is a complete absence of hatred and bigotry from militant secularists and atheists towards Catholicism and the other religions then …

    The Church neither “hates” nor “turns away” homosexuals, nor does the Church deny the *proper* equality of all in the face of natural law.

    The attitude of the Church is not “mediaeval” either — but the attitude of modern secular materialists is pagan ; and it resembles the attitudes of the Ancient pagans of several thousand years ago, as they are described in the 3000-3500 year old texts of the Torah/Old Testament.

    As for love, it is not a synonym of “abject complicity or surrender in the face of immorality nor religious apostasy”.

  • Sweetjae

    Moreso, we are not saying gay people are inferior? Who said that? What we don’t agree with is, the homosexual act and marriage. Hope that you “tolerate” the beliefs and moral convictions of others that differ from you.

  • JabbaPapa

    Yes — says it all about how anti-Christian values are undermining the very heart of British culture, right into the minds of the judiciary itself.