March 17, 2010 / 1:14 PM / 9 years ago

Catholic charity wins gay adoption ruling

LONDON (Reuters) - An independent Catholic charity won a High Court battle on Wednesday over adoption laws that would have forced it to consider gay couples as parents.

Catholic Care, a registered adoption agency, wants special dispensation from sexual orientation regulations which forbid it from giving children solely to heterosexual couples.

The organisation argued that a clause in the act allows charities to discriminate by amending its objectives.

An earlier High Court judgement ruled against it, backing a decision by the Charity Commission to forbid exemptions.

The judgement by Mr Justice Briggs, sitting in London, means the commission must review its original decision, the Press Association reported.

The Right Rev Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds, welcomed the decision on behalf of the charity.

“We look forward to producing evidence to the Charity Commission to support the position that we have consistently taken through this process, that without being able to use this exemption children without families would be seriously disadvantaged,” he said.

Catholic Care, which has provided adoption services for more than a century, had threatened to stop its work finding homes for children.

Gay rights group Stonewall attacked the judgement.

“It’s clearly in the best interests of children in care to encourage as wide a pool of potential adopters as possible,” it said in a statement.

“There should be no question of discriminatory behaviour by any organisation that benefits from the taxpayer.”

Catholic Care serves the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough, and Hallam in South Yorkshire. Along with other Catholic agencies it had been given a 21-month transition period to adjust to the new regulations, which ended in December 2008.

Other Catholic agencies responded to the original ruling by changing their policies or closing altogether.

Reporting by Jim Drury; Editing by Steve Addison

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