An employment tribunal in Yorkshire has heard evidence from an American academic who claims that placing children with same-sex couples damages them.

Former magistrate Andrew McClintock is claiming the Constitutional Affairs department were acting unlawfully by not allowing him to opt out of ruling on cases where gay and lesbians were seeking to adopt children.

Mr McClintock claims his religious views would not permit him to rule on such cases, but court officials told him he would not be allowed to pick and choose which family cases he would pass judgement on.

Mr McClintock resigned as a magistrate and wants the tribunal to reinstate him with the understanding that he can opt out of cases that confict with his Christian views.

The tribunal heard evidence yesterday from Dean Byrd, who is a prominent promoter of so-called conversion therapy as a “cure” for homosexuality.

Dr Byrd told the tribunal:

“The most reputable scientists would agree that the research on children raised by same-sex couples is in its infancy,” according to The Yorkshire Post.

“However, in spite of the many flaws in the very limited pool of rigorous studies, there appears to be an emerging theme.

“Children raised by same-sex couples exhibit poor outcomes not so dissimilar to those raised by divorced heterosexual parents.”

Dr Byrd flew in from Utah to share his opinions on gay parenting with the tribunal.

He is Vice-President of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).

NARTH supports so-called conversion therapy and lobbies the American Psychiatric Association to re-label gay people mentally ill.

Giving evidence to the tribunal, Mr McClintock admitted that he would have given up his duties on the family bench if he had been asked to do so.

He decided instead to ask for an ‘pick and mix’ approach to family cases, which was rejected by his superiors.

Last year, NARTH was castigated for encouraging the bullying of vulnerable children.

NARTH Scientific Advisory Committee member Joseph Berger said on a blog in reaction to a San Francisco Chronicle article on gender identity issues, “I suggest, indeed, letting children who wish go to school in clothes of the opposite sex – but not counselling other children to not tease them or hurt their feelings.

“On the contrary, don’t interfere, and let the other children ridicule the child who has lost that clear boundary between play-acting at home and the reality needs of the outside world.

“Maybe, in this way, the child will re-establish that necessary boundary.”

The employment tribunal continues.