The Scottish Green Party has spoken out against Labour and the Scottish National Party over rumours of an opt-out for Catholic adoption agencies in the country.
On the day that the London press is reporting a defeat for the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, the two largest parties in Scotland appear to be supporting the denial of gay and lesbian couples in Scotland to equal treatment by Catholic adoption agencies.
The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has an “open agreement” from Labour ministers in the country’s Executive that their two adoption agencies will not be required to consider gay or lesbian couples as potential parents.
The Scottish Parliament has legal powers over adoption, but not equality legislation.
In December, the parliament voted on amendments to the Adoption and Children (Scotland) bill and rejected a motion to block gay and lesbian couples from adopting by 98 votes to 11.
The bill eventually passed with only six out of 129 MSPs voting against.
Stonewall Scotland, who lobby for gay rights at the Edinburgh parliament, said that as far as they are aware there is no opt-out for Catholic adoption agencies.
“In December, the Scottish Parliament voted on an amendment from Labour MSP Michael McMahon to give Catholic adoption agencies a loophole,” explained Joseph Church from Stonewall Scotland.
“While most of the Labour MSPs voted for the opt-out, there were some Labour rebels and the amendment was defeated. The SNP voted down the opt-out amendment when the adoption bill was debated.”
Scottish Green Party MSP Patrick Harvie told PinkNews.co.uk: “What we have got now is Labour and the SNP calling for the introduction of an opt-out, when the Scottish Parliament voted against it.
“It makes a mockery of discrimination legislation to give an exemption to a group who clearly discriminate.
“I am very disappointed in the political leadership of the executive and I hope the UK Cabinet holds firm.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Executive told the Daily Record yesterday there was confusion about the Westminster legislation.
He said: “Ministers here are keen to see that it doesn’t change the position here as it relates to Catholic agencies.
“Given that it is unclear what the position is going to be and what the legislation is going to entail down south, it creates a degree of uncertainty here.
“Until we see what the final legislation is, it’s difficult to say what the outcome will be here.”
Mario Conti, the Archbishop of Glasgow, wrote to Tony Blair and Scotland’s First Minister Jack McConnell warning that the, “implementation of the proposed regulations would be regarded as a betrayal.”
Stonewall Scotland’s Jospeh Church commented:
“As far as I am aware there has been no promise of changes to the adoption bill or to the upcoming Sexual Orientation Regulations or exemptions promised.
“I think people are trying to spin things to win the Catholic vote.”