A Roman Catholic adoption charity is to turn away children in care because it refuses to accept the government’s gay rights laws.

Catholic Care will end its 100-year-old adoption service, which places 20 children with new families every year, because it does not want to help same-sex couples adopt.

The Sexual Orientation Regulations, passed earlier this year, protect gay, lesbian and bisexual people from discrimination when accessing goods and services.

Now all adoption agencies have to accept same-sex couples as possible parents.

The charity is one of seven Catholic leader Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor threatened to close because of the laws. They receive a total of £10 million a year from local councils.

The government briefly considered an opt out for Roman Catholic adoption agencies.

After meeting with MPs and the Cabinet in January, former Prime Minister Tony Blair bowed to strong criticism from his own party over the exemption.

Ben Summerskill, who as head of gay equality organisation Stonewall spearheaded oppoosition to an exemption for Roman Catholic-run adoption agencies, told PinkNews.co.uk:

“Our clear view is that if you run a public service then you have to abide by the health and safety legislation, and equality legislation too.

“That applies to adoption agencies just as it does to anyone else – no one is above the law

“It is not entirely clear that this is the only reason that Catholic adoption agencies are considering closing.

“Because of the way that social services are now contracted out, a number of smaller agencies have been closing in recent years.

“It would be utterly reprehensible if the Catholic Church were to use closures that were going to take place anyway as an excuse for alarmist claims about important new legislation that supports equality.”

Catholic Care decided to stop finding families for children after a vote by its trustees, led by the Bishop of Leeds.

In a statement, the charity said it had reconsidered its work in light of the new Government legislation, according to the Daily Mail.

The charity finds couples and individuals – both Catholic and non-Catholic – willing to adopt, pairs them with children and helps them through the adoption process.

Over the last 20 years, 13 of the 720 adopted children placed by Catholic charities have been with same-sex single people. The Vatican believes gay adoptions are “gravely immoral.”

A permanent family is considered the best way to ensure a better life for the 60, 000 children living in care homes and with foster parents.