The Charity Tribunal has given permission for a Catholic adoption agency to appeal against a ruling which said it could not discriminate against gay couples.

Last month, the Charity Commission ruled that Catholic adoption charities which refuse to serve gay couples are breaking laws against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) had wanted to take advantage of a clause in the 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations which allows charities to discriminate by amending its charitable objectives.

It said it had a right to follow church teachings and refuse to consider gay couples.

However, it was decided that the adoption agency must either take on gay couples or be forced to close.

The case will now go to the High Court, which will consider the correct interpretation of regulation 18 of the rules.

Following the June 1st ruling, a spokesman for the diocese said: “As the charities cannot provide unrestricted services without being in breach of their obligations to act in accordance with the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church, it seems likely that the charities will need to close their adoption services and a flagship service of the charities will be lost.

“We are concerned about the possible impact this will have on potential adoptive parents and children.”
The Sexual Orientation Regulations 2007 outlawed discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, facilities and services, including adoption.

Catholic agencies were given a two-year window in which to comply with the new rules, which ran out in December 2008.