The Catholic Children’s Society has announced it will stop placing children with adoptive parents due to new legislation which requires it to cease discriminating against gay couples.

The Sexual Orientation Regulations of 2007 made it illegal if “a person… discriminates against another… on grounds of the sexual orientation”.

Rather than comply with the new law and open applications to gay couples, the agency has opted to no longer organise adoptions.

The Roman Catholic organisation claimed that it could not reconcile church teaching on marriage and the anti-discrimination laws.

In 2003 the Vatican claimed that it was “gravely immoral” to place children with same-sex couples.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Children’s Society told the Daily Mail: “We do this with deep regret but have been forced into this position.”

The agency, which was founded in 1859, has however said that it will continue to offer adoption support for cases it has handled in recent years.

The former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe, who recently stood for election to become the Speaker of the House of Commons, described the Sexual Orientation Regulations as “ludicrous,” saying that the move by the Catholic Children’s Society, “is a sign of the Britain we are in. If you do not subscribe to the prevailing orthodoxy you might as well be living in the Soviet Union.”

All adoption agencies were given until January 2009 to comply with the Sexual Orientation Regulations.