Adoption agencies can’t discriminate against same-sex couples that want to be parents, a judge in the U.K. has ruled. But they can discriminate on the basis of religion.
Cornerstone (North East) Adoption and Fostering Service’s policy is to ask “applicants to refrain from homosexual conduct” and it only works with potential parents who are evangelical Christians.
In 2019, the government agency Ofsted lowered Cornerstone’s rating from “good” to “requires improvement” during an inspection because the agency discriminates.
Cornerstone sued Ofsted, arguing that the agency was “abusing its regulatory function” and was not “neutral in regards of religious beliefs.”
Citing the Equality Act of 2010 – which bans discrimination in the U.K. on the basis of sexual orientation and religion – Cornerstone said that the agency was discriminating against them for taking a “theological approach” to adoption.
In a ruling this week, Justice Julian Knowles said that the adoption agency actually doesn’t have a right to discriminate against LGBTQ parents but that it can reject applicants based on religion.
“The law requires Cornerstone to accept gay men and lesbian women as potential foster carers,” the judge ruled.
“Cornerstone is permitted to exclusively recruit evangelical Christian carers,” the judge also ruled.
Knowles ordered Cornerstone to change its policy to allow LGBTQ evangelical Christians to foster or adopt children.
The chair of Cornerstone, Sheila Bamber, said that she was “saddened that the fundamental place of biblically based Christian marriage in our beliefs has not been recognized.”
She said that the organization will “prayerfully” consider whether they will continue their work.
Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman said that the ruling “offers much needed clarity in what is a difficult, complex area of law.”