Christians lose foster ruling over gays stance

LONDON Mon Feb 28, 2011 7:37pm GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - A Christian couple opposed to homosexuality because of their faith lost a court battle on Monday over the right to become foster carers.

The couple, who are Pentecostal Christians, had gone to court after a social worker expressed concerns about them becoming respite carers after they said they could not tell a child that a "homosexual lifestyle" was acceptable.

Eunice and Owen Johns, both in their 60s and from Derbyshire in the English midlands, asked judges to rule that their faith should not be a bar to them becoming carers, and that the law should protect their Christian values.

But Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson ruled at the Royal Courts of Justice in London that laws protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation "should take precedence" over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds, the Press Association reported.

The couple said after the case that being a Christian was not a crime and should not stop them from raising children.

"We have been excluded because we have moral opinions based on our faith, and a vulnerable child has probably now missed the chance of finding a safe and caring home," they said in a statement issued through the Christian Legal Centre.

Andrea Minichiello Williams of the centre and Christian Concern added: "The law has been increasingly interpreted by judges in a way which favours homosexual rights over freedom of conscience.

"Significant areas of public life are now becoming out of bounds to Christians who do not want to compromise their beliefs," she said.

The lesbian, gay and bisexual charity Stonewall welcomed the court ruling, saying the interests of children in care should "override the bias of any prospective parent."

(Editing by Tim Castle)

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