Thinking Anglicans

High Court rules in favour of adoption agency

Updated

The Chancery Division of the High Court has published its decision in the case of Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) v Charity Commission for England and Wales & Ano[the]r.

You can read the ruling in full here, as web pages, or here as an .rtf file.

Earlier documents in the case (mentioned in the above) can be found here.

A press release from Catholic Care can be found here, and one from Stonewall can be found here.

There are newspaper reports:

The Times High Court reverses ban on Catholic Care’s anti-gay adoption policy by Ruth Gledhill and Rosemary Bennett and see also Catholics win latest stage in gay adoption battle on Ruth’s blog.

Guardian Riazat Butt Catholic adoption agency can turn away gay couples

Telegraph Matthew Moore Catholic adoption agency wins gay rights exemption ruling

Press Association Adoption society wins gay ruling

Reuters Catholic charity wins gay adoption ruling

Independent Sarah Cassidy Catholic group granted gay adoption exemption

Updates

Some of the press reports give an erroneous impression of what has happened so far. This report by Joshua Rozenberg is more reliable: While Catholics Care, Children Suffer, and the Christian Institute is remarkably muted in tone in this report: Glimmer of hope for RC adoption agency.

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MerseymikeRobert Ian williamsStephen BatesSimon SarmientoFather Ron Smith Recent comment authors
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Paul Stanley
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Paul Stanley

The press reports seem to me to be quite misleading. Briggs J has not held that Catholic Care is entitled to discriminate. The argument in this case was over a Charity Commission ruling, upheld by the Charity Tribunal, that it was utterly impossible for Catholic Care to avail itself of the benefit of a regulation which expressly permits discrimination by charities in certain circumstances. The Commission and the Tribunal had ruled (on different grounds) that it was legally impossible to rely on this regulation to do what Catholic Care wanted to do. That is the position that the Judge has… Read more »

Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

Firstly I’m not a lawyer but am very grateful for the link so I can take a look for myself. I usually say on such occasions “It’s well worth reading if you have the time”. I must confess I found the ruling very technical and at times a little tortuous – especially not having much awareness of charity law. However the nub of the reasoning can easily be got from paras 107-111 if you can’t bear to wade through it. It is true that it seems to hinge on an analysis of ‘hard to place’ children as opposed to any… Read more »

Paul Stanley
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Paul Stanley

Craig, I agree that the judgment is hard-going, even for a lawyer. That’s one reason perhaps why some of the reporting — and nearly all the headlines — miss the mark. But I think you are wrong in reading Briggs J as treating Art 14 as a “free standing protection from discrimination”. That would indeed be … unorthodox. But in fact he says the reverse (para 55): “[Art 14] operates not by way of the conferral of a freestanding right not to be discriminated against, but rather by way of complementing the other substantive provisions of the Convention and the… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

As one might expect Paul Stanley has absolutely nailed this! There are two things I want to say: 1. RC adoption societies have varied in their practice but many have worked with gay adopters, even couples – provided only one was the registered adopter (as was always the case for all unmarried couples before Dec 2005). They have placed with unmarried couples – even though the law continues to allow them to discriminate there – and they have placed with couples who are divorced and remarried. Of course they have had many successful placements with single people. Yet they have… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

” Other Catholic agencies have already given up adoption or cut their ties with the Church.”
– Ruth Gledhill, Times on-line –

Well, that’s a start! For a Catholic agency to have decided to cut it’s ties with the Church shows that there is still a margin for individual consciences on this issue among the R.C. Care agencies. Let’s hope they don’t get excommunicated for observing Christian charity on this issue.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

What Paul said

Also, the Equality Bill is likely to reverse this situation in any case, and also there is the question of local authorities duty to enforce equality under that Bill. This will prevent them working with agencies who discriminate and in the UK, there is no ‘private’ adoption

The vast majority of the agencies have agreed to change in any case and gather that the staff were generally happy to do so.

Simon Sarmiento
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I agree with Merseymike about the local authorities who are, as public bodies, under more stringent obligations regarding the promotion of equality than any private body, such as a church-related adoption agency.

But I am puzzled at his suggestion that the Equality Bill will, if passed, “reverse this situation”, as I am not aware that it makes any substantive change to the current formulation of Regulation 18.

Stephen Bates
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Stephen Bates

Joshua is, of course, Melanie Phillips’s husband (and a lawyer as well as a journalist), which adds a touch of picquancy to his subtle interpretation of the ruling, nuance not being Mel’s strong suit these days, unlike when she was at the Guardian….

Robert Ian williams
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Robert Ian williams

The Welsh Catholic bishops had a pastoral read in Church telling us why the Church was cutting the links with its adoption agencies, and hw children needed a Mother and Father. Then they closed it , by asking us to still support the secularised agencies!

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Simon – sorry, should have clarified. The equality duty will make it impossible for local authorities to work with agencies who overtly discriminate, and as there is no such thing as a private adoption…