Caven blog

Anti-gay Christian couple not allowed to foster children

The High Court has ruled that a Pentecostal Christian couple were not discriminated against by a local authority who did not find them suitable to foster children based on their belief that homosexuality is wrong.

The couple from Derby have fostered children in the past but when they told a social worker that they could not tell a child that a “homosexual lifestyle” was acceptable, their application to foster five-to-ten year old children wasn’t processed.

Eunice and Owen Johns, both in their sixties, claimed that they had been discriminated against on the grounds of their Christian beliefs.

The case was brought by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which represents conservative evangelicals, and is the latest case brought by the group claiming discrimination against Christians. None of their claims have been successful in court.

The High Court judgement was critical of the claim and said the CLC’s lawyers remarks were a “travesty of reality”.

The judge said no-one was disputing that Christians and people of other faiths can make good foster or adoptive parents and that “no one is seeking to de-legitimise Christianity or any other form of belief”. The judge stressed that in actual fact the law of the UK seeks to uphold equality for all: “everyone is equal before the law and equal as a human being … entitled to dignity and respect.”

However, in a secular state one set of beliefs cannot take precedence over another.

The judge said that the Church of England allows its clergy to enter into civil partnerships (although they must remain celibate) and this pluralistic and democratic society is the one in which we live.

Eunice Johns said her and her husband were “extremely distressed” by the court’s ruling: “All we wanted to do was offer a loving home to a child in need.”

She said that their views on homosexuality are “mainstream” in Christianity and that all they “were not willing to do was tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing”.

The CLC’s lawyer, Andrea Minichiello Williams said that “the law has been increasingly interpreted by judges in a way which favours homosexual rights over freedom of conscience.”

The court said it was not ruling against beliefs but against the discriminating effects of those beliefs.

Related Links:

Read more on the story (Guardian)
Learn more on the law on fostering (FindLaw)
Find local family solicitors throughout the UK (Caven)

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