A Christian adoption agency must allow same-sex couples to foster and adopt children, a UK judge has ruled.
Cornerstone (North East) Adoption and Fostering Service, which only places children with married, evangelical Christians, was told it “cannot lawfully refuse” to allow gay men and lesbian partners to sign up as carers.
Mr Justice Julian Knowles made the ruling on Tuesday, following a legal challenge against schools regulator Ofsted after the public body slammed the Sunderland-based agency’s policies as discriminatory.
The High Court claimed that Cornerstone had breached the 2010 Equality Act by requiring prospective carers to “refrain from homosexual conduct”.
“It hardly needs be said, but I categorically reject any suggestion that gay men and lesbians cannot make wonderfully loving foster and adoptive parents, whether they are single or in same-sex partnerships,” the judge said in his ruling.
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Cornerstone commented that its decision to take legal action was vindicated by the judge upholding the agency’s right to recruit only evangelical Christians as potential carers, a requirement Ofsted had branded “not inclusive”, with the body insisting that fostering “is a secular act”.
The service’s chair, the Rev Sheila Bamber, said: “The judgment justifies our decision to pursue this legal action. Our right to support Christian families in providing the best possible outcomes for vulnerable children and young people has been upheld.
“But I am saddened that the fundamental place of biblically-based Christian marriage in our beliefs has not been recognised. We will carefully and prayerfully consider how to continue our vocation and work to create forever families.”
Acting on behalf of Cornerstone, Aidan O’Neill QC told the High Court that Ofsted had acted “unlawfully” and “invented” discrimination by the fostering agency so as to make a case against it, noting: “This is a hypothetical dispute in which there are no actual victims. Ofsted have not identified any individuals who face discrimination under Cornerstone’s work.”
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Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said: “We are pleased with the outcome of this case.
“The court agreed that Cornerstone independent fostering agency’s recruitment policy discriminates on the grounds of sexual orientation and is unlawful.
“As a public body, Ofsted has a duty to consider whether the organisations we inspect comply with equality and human rights law. This outcome offers much-needed clarity in what is a difficult, complex area of law.”
Evangelical charities like Cornerstone are not the only Christian organisations to have been squeezed out of the public square by equality and human rights legislation, however, with the country’s very successful Roman Catholic adoption agencies having all been forced to either shut down or cut ties with the church after officials told them they could not adopt to heterosexual families only, in line with church teachings on the importance of children having a mother and father.
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Breitbart London has previously reported on Ofsted boss Spielman’s demands that schools promote “muscular liberalism” and her assertion that establishments with “cultural conservative or religious values” must be “exposed”.
In a 2018 speech warning that ideologues are using schools to “pervert” education and “indoctrinate impressionable minds”, the schools watchdog chief cited the Christian Institute, a mainstream religious organisation which backed Cornerstone in its case against Ofsted, as an example of extremism.
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