A doctor employed by the National Health Service is to lobby the government for an opt-out from assessing gay couples as adoptive parents.
Bedfordshire GP Dr John Lockley argues that his “Christian conscience” would stop him from giving a positive recommendation for gay patients to an adoption agency.
Dr Lockley says that he faces being struck off if he refuses go give references under the terms of the new Sexual Orientation Regulations, due to become law in April.
The regulations outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation when accessing goods and services, including adoption services.
“I will be failing to comply with the Government’s proposed Sexual Orientations Regulations if I object to a homosexual couple as potential adoptive parents,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
“If I am found to have discriminated against the couple, and the claimants inform the General Medical Council, it will investigate and GPs who persistently refuse on conscience grounds to provide positive references for gay patients will risk being struck off.”
Dr Lockley is asking the Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, to grant exemptions to the regulations similar to the provisions in the 1967 Abortion Act, whereby doctors are not required to perform terminations, but must refer the patient to another doctor.
The GP, an adviser to a non-religious adoption agency, told the Telegraph that he is on good terms with his gay patients.
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, said that Dr Lockley’s argument was flawed:
“A GP would only be asked for clinical advice and it is his job to give that. Judging who is a good Christian is not a matter for GPs and neither is judging who is a good parent.
“This is another example of a person who is putting their own prejudices above the needs of children.”
A doctor would be asked to provide information to an adoption agency about the health of prospective adoptive parents, but not asked their personal views on whether they would be fit to adopt.
“The simple fact is that it is one of these entirely hypothetical cases that does not seem to reside in the real world,” commented Mr Summerskill.
The Department of Communities and Local Government have refused to say when the regulations will be published.
The Prime Minister last week announced that they will include a “breathing space” for adoption agencies run by the Roman Catholic Church.
They will have until the end of 2008 to comply with the rules, and will after that time legally have to consider gay couples as adoptive parents.