At the General Assembly in Richmond, Virginia, a battle is heating up over whether adoption agencies should be allowed to discriminate against prospective parents based on their sexual orientation.

Senator Adam Ebbin has introduced legislation which would not allow Virginia to fund or contract adoption agencies who discriminate against prospective parents on the basis of ‘race, religion, national origin, sex, age, family status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.’

Last month, new regulations were finalised in the Virginia which means that from this May, adoption agencies will be able to discriminate against prospective adopting families based on age, gender, disability, religion, political belief and family status.

The vote was 5-1 for the new regulations, with Bela Sood, the chairwoman of the Social Services Board casting the only “no” vote.

Sood told the Richmond Times Dispatch: “The science really doesn’t substantiate the notion,” she said, “that [the traditional family structure] is the only way children should be raised.”

Reports suggest that half of the state’s 81 agencies affected by these regulations are affiliated with the church.

The finalised regulations still prohibit discrimination based on race or national origin.

Virginia state law currently allows adoption by single people, and married couples, but prohibits adoption by unmarried partnerships.

Other bills have been introduced which would allow discrimination if doing so goes against religious beliefs, including opposition to gay parents adopting.