50% of the Catholic adoption agencies that threatened to close if forced to work with gay couples have adopted the new equality law.

11 agencies were given a 21 month exemption period from the Equality Act in April 2007, which forbade discrimination in the provision of good and services on the grounds of sexuality.

The exemption period ran out at the start of the new year.

Of those 11 agencies, five have changed their position and will now comply with the laws, whilst one is to close, and two are still seeking exemption, BBC News reports.

The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge told BBC Radio 5Live that the new law is “aggressive” towards faith organisations.

He said: “I think it’s iconic of a situation where you’ve got a clash between sexual orientation rights and religious rights where in almost every circumstance I’ve been aware of, religious rights have been seen to play second fiddle.”

The compliance with the new regulations by Catholic adoption agencies has been met with strong criticism by some members of the Church.

In October 2008, the Bishop of Lancaster Patrick O’Donoghue threatened to evict adoption agency Catholic Caring Services from church premises for complying with the Equality Act.

It is as yet unknown as to whether the remaining three agencies will comply or continue appealing for exemption.