A Christian foster couple have had an 11-year-old boy removed from their care for refusing to condone homosexuality.

The Daily Mail claims that Vincent Matherick, 65, and wife Pauline, 61, refused to sign a contract saying they would tell children it is “good” to be gay and take them to gay association meetings if they are curious.

The couple, who have fostered 28 children through Somerset County Council, are to be struck off the list by social services, as they say they cannot “promote” homosexuality because of their religious beliefs.

Officials told them they would not be able to care for more children as they would not be meeting government guidelines.

Social workers then ordered them to give up custody of their 11-year-old foster son, who will now go to a council hostel on Friday after two years with the couple.

Mr Matherick, a retired travel agent who is now a Christian minister told the Mail:

“I simply could not agree to do it because it is against my central beliefs.

“We have never discriminated against anybody but I cannot preach the benefits of homosexuality when I believe it is against the word of God.”

The Mathericks have three children of their own, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild and

Both of them are ministers at the non-conformist South Chard Christian Church, near their home in Chard, Somerset.

In February this year a social worker met with the couple at their home and told them about its implementation of the Government’s new Sexual Orientation Regulations.

The rules, granted under the Equality Act 2006, make it illegal for the recipients of goods, services or public functions to discriminate on the grounds of sexuality.

Mr Matherick told the Mail an official told them: “You have to agree to promote homosexuality. If you don’t, it will go to a panel and you will be deregistered.”

The couple had more meetings over the next few months and have now decided to retire rather than be deregistered.

Mr Matherick added: “They were saying that we had to be prepared to talk about sexuality with 11-year-olds, which I don’t think is appropriate anyway, but not only that, to be prepared to explain how gay people date.

“They said we would even have to take a teenager to gay association meetings. How can I do that when it’s totally against what I believe?

“I can’t condone the practice of homosexuality but that does not mean that there aren’t people in the church who are of that gender.

“Of course we don’t confront people about it. If a child came to me and said ‘I feel this way’ I would have to answer with the truth and say ‘that is your choice, not the choice I would make’ – but I would never condemn.

“We cannot promote the practice of homosexuality.”

Somerset County Council’s corporate director for children and young people, told the Mail: “No decision has been made about the deregistration of Mr and Mrs Matherick.”

The Mathericks are now fighting the case with the backing of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship.