Half of Catholic adoption agencies won over to new equality law

By staff writers
January 4, 2009

Half of the Catholic adoption agencies that the Church threatened to close if they were required to work with gay couples have now adopted the new equality law following an exemption period.

In total, 11 agencies were given a 21 month 'adjustment' period from the Equality Act in April 2007.

The Act outlaws discrimination in the provision of good and services on the grounds of sexual orientation. The exemption period ran out on 1 January 2009.

Five of the agencies have now changed their position and will comply with the law,. One is to close and two others are still seeking exemption, BBC News reports.

Compliance with the new regulations by Catholic adoption agencies has been met with strong criticism by some members of the Church. But others have welcomed it.

In October 2008 the Catholic Bishop of Lancaster, Patrick O'Donoghue, threatened to evict adoption agency Catholic Caring Services from church premises for complying with the Equality Act.

His suggestion was greeted with outrage inside and outside the Church.

Some supporters of the new law were initially resistant or critical towards the exemption period allowed by the government. But other equalities campaigners say that the increased compliance is a sign of its success.

It is hoped that the remaining three agencies can be persuaded to come on board with the full equalities agenda.

Christians supporting full equality on theological as well as practical grounds say that the changing public and legal agenda creates the opportunity to challenge discrimination and the culture that supports it within sections of the churches.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.