A tribunal has thrown out a Catholic charity’s bid to be exempted from equality laws which make it illegal to discriminate against gay couples who wish to adopt.

Leeds-based Catholic Care have said they will have no choice but to end their work finding homes for children if they are forced to comply with the new equality regulations which prohibit discrimination against same-sex couples wanting to adopt.

The case went to the High Court last year before being referred to the Charity Commission, who would not back Catholic Care’s position. And the Charity Commission’s stance was upheld today by a first-tier tribunal which dismissed the appeal.

Although the tribunal acknowledged that the potential loss of any children’s charity was a negative thing, the threatened closure from Catholic Care – which is not certain – had to be balanced against “the detriment to same-sex couples and the detriment to society generally of permitting the discrimination proposed.”

Speaking to the Independent, Naomi Phillips of the British Humanist Association said: “When groups are providing public services, not least vital services such as adoption, it is legitimate to prevent unjustified discrimination, as the law seeks to do, in order to ensure that those services are equal, accessible and operate in the interests of those they are helping.“