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Catholic charities at risk after adoption agency ruled to be ‘discriminating’

By on Thursday, 24 January 2013

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A leading Catholic lawyer has warned that Catholic charities across Britain are at risk from equality laws after an adoption agency was told it could lose its charitable status.

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator ruled that St Margaret’s Children and Family Care Society in Glasgow is directly discriminating against gay people by refusing to place children in the care of same-sex couples.

The regulator said that although the charity provides a valuable service, it believed its current practice was unlawful, and gave it three months to change.

The ruling came about after a complaint by the National Secular Society.

Martin Tyson, the Scottish Charity Regulator’s head of registration, said: ‘We acknowledge the valuable service provided by this charity, but the fact is that all charities must comply with the law, including the Equality Act 2010.”

But Neil Addison of the Thomas More Legal Centre said the regulator threatening to remove the agency from the charities’ register was “surprising”.

He said: “There is an exemption in the Equality Act for charities. If what they’re doing is breaking the Equality Act there is a procedure for challenging it, for saying what they’re doing is unlawful.

“It’s a gross overreaction. It’s like closing down an entire hospital because one small section is in breach of health and safety.

“If they’re right, then the exemption in the Equality Act is worthless, because if you break the Act then you are not a charity. It’s a completely circular argument.”

Mr Addison also said that the ruling had implications for other areas of equality law, including the Government’s “quadruple lock” protecting religious groups in the event of gay marriage.

“It’s going to stop all sorts of Catholic charities which are arguably in breach of the Equality Act. If you apply this logic, what’s to stop the regulator refusing to register a church or diocese as a charity?

“It is very worrying. I think the regulator is going way beyond its powers and remits.”

Education Secretary Mike Russell said he was “disappointed” by the decision. He said: “We do not believe that this outcome is in the best interests of the children St Margaret’s helps, who are in need of a safe and loving family home.”

  • AnthonyPatrick

    Some secularists appear to be ill-disposed towards core principles of Catholic Christianity.  It seems disingenuous to deploy an Equality Act to suppress the faith in practice.  Wasn’t its original scope employment and political rights?  Adoption isn’t one of those any more than it is a right at all, let alone a human right.

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

    We should fight tooth and nail against this bigoted anti-child ruling.  The rights of children to a mum and dad, must come before the whims of homosexuals!

     

  • Faither

    How many children are in loving catholic families due to the work of St Margarets? Secularists and the homosexual lobby seem to be looking for evey avenue to attack Catholic and Christian values at every turn irrespective who they harm.
    A father and a mother is the perfect environment to raise children. even better if a faith ethos is involved.
    It once again shows the outright bigotry of the National Secular Society and their  ilk to even raise this complaint.

  • shieldsheafson

    Who would have thought that the human rights project could become so powerful that it risked being turned against itself, and against the human person?  In this case, children in adversity.

    Basic human rights are not created by governments; they are pre-political.  In Catholic thought, human rights arise from a natural order whose laws can be discovered through study and experience – by believer and unbeliever alike.  To remove human rights from that context could destroy their universality.

    With this cultural relativism, we risk the denial of universality in the name of different cultural, political, social and even religious outlooks.  The use of this cultural specificity – in this case, homosexual couples – may indeed mask violations of human rights – in this case, the child.

    Some of the world’s worst human rights violators have attempted to hide behind this type of argument.

    We have fallen into the trap that characterizes the mindset of the arbitrarily appointed professional culture of many lawyers, civil servants, and NGOs – a kind of – ism that is insensitive to local particularities and that insists on its own dogmatic interpretations of human rights.

    Relativism has penetrated so deeply into popular culture that good men and women are increasingly unable to say why any values should be defended, or why any conduct should be condemned, except that it is a matter of preference.  But if there are no common truths to which people of different backgrounds and cultures can appeal, it is difficult to see how universal human rights can be upheld.  

    ‘ those beautiful and moving words which pertain to the old repertory of the rights of man and the
    dignity of the person.  I wonder at this phenomenon because maybe underneath there is an abyss.  After all, these ideas had their foundation in religion … How will they stay afloat if the bottom is taken out? ’ Czeslaw Milosz.

    In a lecture that Pope Benedict was to have given at La Sapienza University in Rome at the beginning of 2008, he addressed this challenge to the Faculty of Jurisprudence: ‘ How can juridical norms be found that guarantee freedom, human dignity and human rights? ’  Anticipating the
    standard response referring to democratic processes of deliberation, he observed that public argumentation in contemporary democracies aims above all at attaining majorities, and that ‘ sensitivity to the truth is constantly overruled by sensitivity to interests ’ ,often ‘ special interests that do not truly serve everyone ’ .

    Faced now with Pilate’s question, the Pope replied to a 17 year-old boy who, on another occasion,
    pressed the Pope to say more: ‘ There are only two options. Either one recognizes the priority of reason, of Creative Reason that is at the beginning of all things and is the principle of all things … or the priority of the irrational ’ , which would mean accepting that everything on earth and in our lives, including reason itself, is only accidental.  ‘ The great option of Christianity ’ , the Pope told the boy, ‘ is the option for rationality and the priority of reason.

  • majorcalamity

    The regulator has no choice other than to apply the law. If there is a general agreement that the law is not working as it should then we need to change the law. If the extension of marriage to same sex couples becomes law then there will be a cast iron opt out for all churches who do not wish to participate. I see no reason why the same arrangement cannot be applied to Catholic adoption agencies, but the law must be changed first. I know that there is mistrust over whether equality legislation will be used to force acceptance. I am sure that this will not happen and that your rights will be held to be equal. There is no intention to put any group in a superior position to you, only to ensure that their rights are treated fairly and equally.  

  • Nick

    And just what are Catholic and Christian values? Do please explain them, we could all do with a good laugh.

    You seem to forget that gay people also make perfect parents and have the legal right to be considered as adoptive parents without discrimination. That is why Catholic adoption agencies are being closed down as it is they who are guilty of outright bigotry – and the courts agree with that every time.

  • Nick

    Except that the same arrangement isn’t applied to Catholic adoption agencies and won’t be.
    Marriage and adoption are different things. There is an argument (a spurious one but an argument none the less) to say that marriage is a sacrament from God. There is no such justifiction to say that adoption is – that’s the difference.

  • Nick

    What about the rights of children to a loving home?
    That’s seen as far more important than whether the two people involved are male and female.

    But I suppose you subscribe to the notion that no gay relationship, no matter how loving, supportive, stable, faithful or committed can match the standard of a heterosexual relationship, however abusive, adulterous, deceitful, dysfunctional or short-lived.

    I don’t suppose you like being referred to as prejudiced, bigoted and homophobic either do you!!!

  • Stephen

    Nice straw man you’ve got there!

    The point is that children should have a mum and a dad. That those parents should be in a loving, supportive, stable, faithful, committed relationship goes without saying.

  • Nick

    Not a straw man at all – as its been proved that gay people in a loving, supportive, stable, faithful, committed relationship are able to bring up children equally as well.
    And the law supports that – which is why the Catholic adoption agencies that won’t change their stance have been closed down. Caput!!

  • JabbaPapa

    There is no intention to put any group in a superior position to you

    It’s a sad thing that you appear to believe this political propaganda that you have been indoctrinated with…

    Case in point :

    to ensure that their rights are

    Right, so it’s only just a little bit of innocent “us and them”, eh ?

  • JabbaPapa

    Right, and are you also suggesting that everybody in here should just ignore the presence of anti-Catholic bigotry in virtually every single post that you contribute ?

  • JabbaPapa

    … as its been proved that gay people …

    bla-bla-bla

    No it has not — in fact, there are studies showing the exact opposite of what you have suggested.

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

    A loving home is provided more completely by a mother and father….since this is the ONLY  relationship that begets children and is natural and important to them.  Gay relationships have no connection to a child whatsoever.  And children should not be used as commodities to fulfill the dreams of others!  Children are an end in themselves.

    Maybe it is you that is bigoted, prejudiced, anti-truth and anti-Catholic..! 

  • majorcalamity

    To suggest that I am “indoctrinated” is a little rich, when it comes from a source where indoctrination is standard practice!

    To suggest that equality laws are intended to establish anything other than a level playing field is not just to attack me. It attacks all our lawmakers, both in the UK and the EU. Do you really think there is such a conspiracy going on?

    You might disagree with these proposals but please don’t insult either my, or our parliamentarian’s, integrity.  

  • Neil Addison

     The threat by the Office of the Scottish Charity
    Regulator (OSCR) to remove the Charitable status of the St Margarets Adoption
    Agency is not a decision “to apply the law” it is a subversion of the law and a disgraceful abuse of regulatory power which ignores the clear
    provisions of the Equality Act.
     

    Section 193 of the Act permits Charities to
    restrict their services in accordance with their constitution and that is all
    that St Margarets was doing.  The ruling by OSCR that St Margarets cannot be a
    Charity if it restricts its services in accordance with s193 is a completely
    circular argument because only a Charity can take advantage of s193. 

     

    Parliament passed the Equality Act including s193
    and only Parliament has the right to change the act, not an unelected
    bureaucracy like OSCR.  By its decision OSCR has in effect subverted the
    clear intentions of Parliament as expressed in s193

  • Nick

    Spot on – the problem is that Catholics and the Catholic church don’t want equal rights – that’s not good enough for them. They want to create ‘exceptions’ and ‘special rights’. They think their rights trump everyone else’s rights – until they learn that they don’t, they will forever be on a hiding to nothing.

  • Nick

    I do not espouse anti-Catholic bigotry.
    As I have said to you previously, I support the right of Catholics and indeed all Christians to practice their faith and worship their God.
    That’s religious freedom and its a precious freedom as are all freedoms.
     
    But what I do not support and where I will attack is where you and other Christians think you have special rights…. different rights…. exceptional rights.
    Rights that mean freedom of religion is set higher than other freedoms and rights.
     
    Because this then means you are infringing on the rights of others and discriminating against others.
    Yes you are free to follow your faith – but not when doing so creates a clash and brings you into conflict with others which denies them their rights.Catholic adoption agencies must respect the rights of gay couples to adopt – because if they don’t, they are discriminating.
    Catholic B n B owners must respect the rights of gay couples to share a double room – because if they don’t they are discriminating.
    And neither of these examples prevents the Christian person from following their faith, it really doesn’t.
    But you cannot expect to be exempted from laws you don’t like when all those laws are there to do is to ensure equal treatment.
     
    And once again we come back to the fact that the courts of law – the high court, the court of appeal and the ECHR support the position I have articulated above every single time. Every single time. 

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

    Catholics simply want to put the rights of children first.  Pity our secular society wants to put them second best, isn’t it?!

  • Nick

    Yes – the odd radical study commissioned by prejudiced, bigoted, evangelical groups in the US or possibly by the Catholic church. (The same church that says condoms don’t help prevent the spread of HIV in sub saharan Africa).

    Nothing mainstream accepted by the mainstrean medical profession and social services in the UK – or anywhere else.
    Which is why the laws are as they are -  precisely because all of the “credible” evidence rather than “biased” evidence points in the direction I have suggested and not in the direction you suggest.

  • majorcalamity

    Hi Nick

    Would by any chance you be a nautical guys? If so I think our paths may have crossed in another place. I totally agree that the argument about marriage is spurious. I also believe that any adoption agency has to abide by nationally approved standards and not cherry pick. However these guys, for whatever reason, don’t think as we do so maybe in a spirit of compromise we could permit an opt out provided they refer on to other agencies and always act in the interest of the child. If they only ever place children with Catholic parents they deserve to be closed.

  • Nick

    What rights would those be then – the rights of children to be brought up in a lovng home?

    So in “simply want to put the rights of children first” Catholics wouldn’t in any way want to discriminate against gay people would they? They wouldn’t in any way try and suggest that a homosexual relationship isn’t 100% on par with a heterosexual relationship would they!!!

  • Nick

    Hi – I’m sorry, but you’ve completely lost me with the nautical guys reference.

    I don’t necessarily disagree with what you’re advocating, but if we’re talking ‘in a spirit of compromise’, where would they be compromising exactly?
    From where I’m sitting, they’re not interested in compromise – just in getting their own way.

    Perhaps the compromise is that they publically recognise that the sate has the right to introduce same sex civil marriage!

     

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

    The right of children to have a mum and dad….and to be brought up by them in a stable secure loving environment….of course.

    And an active homosexual relationship is sinful…..and therefore can never be ‘on par’ with a heterosexual married relationship.

  • vicintheair

    Of course there are studies that show that…there are ALWAYS studies showing polar opposites. However, if you research the studies done in, for example, Denmark, and Spain; just two places where same sex marriage has been in law for some time, you will see that, in addition to divorce rates dropping, the children being supported by same sex couples are equally happy, content, and well adjusted as those of opposite sex couples. Studies done by those with ‘agenda’s’ are not always reliable. Those done by independant bodies are somewhat less unreliable…though nobodies perfect!

  • JabbaPapa

    To suggest that I am “indoctrinated” is a little rich

    Given that you are constantly spouting “secularist”/”humanist”/atheist doctrines, it is reasonable to conclude to your indoctrination into these philosophical creeds.

  • JabbaPapa

    If they only ever place children with Catholic parents they deserve to be closed

    I can see that you haven’t even the faintest idea about the true meaning of the phrase “religious freedom”. It is NOT just a combination of freedom of belief and freedom of worship — it is the freedom to live one’s religious life without let or hindrance ; and if that includes allowing those placing children for adoption to demand of a Catholic adoption agency that those children should find Catholic homes, then this is an ordinary religious freedom of those people.

  • JabbaPapa

    the odd radical study commissioned by prejudiced, bigoted, evangelical groups in the US or possibly by the Catholic church

    In fact, independent studies by academics.

    ooooh, and of course there’s no chance at all that any studies can have been commissioned or financed and influenced by these or those homosexualist lobbies or pressure groups or politically correct political activists eh ?

  • majorcalamity

    You clearly don’t understand these concepts at all. I am a free thinker and don’t belong to any organisation. The very definition of humanism means that it has no “creed”. I speak as I find. That others reach similar conclusions is just co-incidental. Try expecting a Catholic to do  that!

  • majorcalamity

    To explain, I used Catholic forum where pretty much the only other voice of reason came from “Nautical Nick”. You write in a similar way. Catholics don’t do compromise. For them this is a big evil called relativism. They know what is right (the Truth) and it’s their duty to instruct us what it is. We just have to keep on pointing out their errors!

  • majorcalamity

    If true why do they not use the law to challenge the ruling? I suspect there is more to this that meets the eye, or has been reported.

  • nelmonster

    We must fight tooth and nail against this bigoted, homophobic organisation. The rights of gay people must come before the whims of organised religion.
    Do you see what I did there?

  • Martin

    This kind of thing may work very well for people in the Netherlands but in the UK we should be allowed to persecute and descriminate against those who do things we find a bit icky.

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

    I don’t really care what you did.  The rights of children must come first.  And the Catholic Church supports this.  Such a pity our secular authorities prefer to ignore this.  They certainly should not be in positions of authority with attitudes like that! 

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

    How do we know they are independant….and not already in agreement with the dictates of a child-unfriendly government?!

  • Neil Addison

     The Charity only got the OSCR decision yesterday !

  • nelmonster

    “I don’t really care what you did.”No, you really don’t do you?

  • JabbaPapa

    The very definition of humanism means that it has no “creed”.

    This statement is completely meaningless, because you are simply stating the “humanist” doctrine that “humanism” is devoid of doctrines.

    It’s sad that you should imagine that such self-contradictions and lies might form a rational basis of thought.

  • JabbaPapa

    “reason”

    Carry on deluding yourself …

  • majorcalamity

    From the BHA website, in defining who might be considered a humanist:-

    “Humanists-Think for themselves about what is right and wrong, based on reason and respect for others.Find meaning, beauty and joy in the one life we have, without the need for an afterlife.Look to science instead of religion as the best way to discover and understand the world.Believe people can use empathy and compassion to make the world a better place for everyone.”Please note “think for themselves”. They are a mixed bunch with no central beliefs.  You don’t have to “sign up” to anything, or be catechised. There is no creed. I am not a BHA member, but have sympathy with the description above.You are a strange guy who, even when faced with overwhelming evidence, cannot admit a mistake.  

  • T3adsf

    Again, parents needs should not come before a childs.  There are decades of studies showing mom and dad is the best environment for raising kids.  The few recent studies show that children are fine without one of their gender role-models are new and incomplete.  You can have cracks in the foundation and not see them until enough pressure is put upon them.  The homosexual agenda and modern psychology is all about “me”, and what makes “me” happy.  That’s why they want to lower the age of consent to have access to kids and call it “right to sexual freedom” even though their brains aren’t fully developed until their 21 (like letting kids drive a car without brakes), and access to schools calling it “anti-bullying” even though bullying can be handled the same for everyone, and change the laws that ban gay men to give blood because it makes them feel bad, regardless of endangering thousands of people’s lives  when they are 44 times more likely to transmit HIV and Hepatitis C.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contaminated_haemophilia_blood_products
    Laws are meant for the common good, not the individual, that would be chaos.  Give them an inch they’ll take a mile.  

  • whytheworldisending

    Measures such as these are drawing up battle lines between atheists and people of faith. If the so-called “secularists,” (who are in reality militant atheists seeking to impose their bigoted opinions on the rest of us so as to turn Britain into a totalitarian anti-faith nation) want to withdraw support from religious charities, then Christians – and all people of faith - will be forced to withdraw all financial support from all secular charities, including those who have lost touch with their religious roots. Likewise, people of faith will be forced to stop donating, not only their money, but their time to organisations unworthy of their support. As with the oil in the parable of the foolish bridesmaids, the goodwill is running out, and secular organisations will be the losers, since the goodwill is being provided by the faithful, for the benefit of the faithless.

  • JabbaPapa

    overwhelming evidence

    There is overwhelming evidence that every philosophical system is constituted of, among other things, a corpus of shared doctrines.

    I fail to see how your description of several doctrines of secularist humanism is supposed to convince me otherwise.

  • Nick

    “This kind of thing may work very well for people in the Netherlands but in the UK we should be allowed to persecute and descriminate against those who do things we find a bit icky.” – What like ignorant, prejudiced, bigoted Christians you mean?

  • Nick

    No, we’d be happy just to see a secular state – like France is!
    You know, that country that’s 21 miles over the water and regarded as one of the most civilised in the world!!

  • Nick

    Who says its sinful – your ‘god’ bloke? ahaha.

    Civilised society, the Houses of Parliament in Westminster and Holyrood, all of the main party leaders, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the ECHR ALL disagree with you!
    And in the latest COMRES poll 60% of the population support equal marriage.
    So yep, it is on a par.

    But as an ignorant, prejudiced, religious bigot, you of course don’t understand that.

  • Nick

    Then perhaps my dear JabbaJabba, you could explain to us why just about every single one of them have either been closed down or voluntarily elected to cease their activities or change
    their focus?

  • Nick

    I’m afraid I’m not your “Nautical Nick” – but thank you for the compliment re voice of reason.I really do not understand the thought processes of most of the contributors to this forum – who are clearly, in the main, well educated and fairly erudite.

    But that ‘intelligent’ people can hold the views expressed on here beggars belief. Talk about blinkered

  • Nick

    You hear that JabbaJabba – I’m the voice of reason.

    I wonder what adjective we should apply to you.

    And after the persecution that gay people have suffered down the centuries, why exactly should we be in any mood to compromise? The fact that we are whilst you as ever are not speaks volumes.

    All pretty laughable really when you consider Vatican City State contains more gay people per square metre than any other area of land on earth.And before you ask me to substantiate that assertion, I was ‘touched up’ by a Catholic priest showing me round the Gregorian University 29 years ago.

  • Nick

    Oh yes we know what rights the Catholic Church likes to assert when it comes to children – abuse and rape, that’s what.