Current Affairs

Lib Dem MP calls for adoption opt-out

Tony Grew January 26, 2007
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A Roman Catholic Liberal Democrat MP has tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, calling on the government to exclude Catholic adoption agencies from the Equality Act.

Richard Younger-Ross’ motion has been signed by only six other MPs.

He told

“The Catholic Church and others have spent a long time investing in and raising money for adoption facilities. That fundraising enables them to care for the child and family not just up to 16, but for life. It’s quite a unique service.

“The real danger is that these adoption agencies might be forced to consider gay couples and then religious people will not donate. Then you will end up with no funding.

“Gay people will not be able to go these agencies because they won’t exist.”

Mr Younger-Ross, MP for Teigbridge, said he fully supports the rights of gay people.

“I ask for tolerance from the gay community for people whose views they may find repugnant,” he added.

The Liberal Democrats have been very critical of the proposed opt-outs for Catholic adoption agencies.

Earlier in the week, the head of the party’s LBGT campaign group, Evan Harris MP, called the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church “sordid” and accused them of blackmail.

Mr Younger-Ross’ motion asks that:

“This House recognises the unique contribution made by faith based adoption agencies in placing children in caring families and that many such agencies provide support for life for the child and family; believes that the Equality Act 2006, if applied to them, would jeopardise their funding and therefore their work; and calls on the Government to exclude them from this Act.”

It has been signed by one other Lib Dem MP, Colin Breed and three Tory MPs, Philip Davies, Gary Streeter and Brooks Newmark.

Two Labour MPs, Geraldine Smith and Jim Dobbin, also signed the motion.

On Sunday it was revealed that Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly and Tony Blair wanted to exempt Roman Catholic adoption agencies from the regulations.

Gay Labour MPs Chris Byrant and Angela Eagle met with Mr Blair earlier this week and said that they are now satisfied the government will not be granting any exclusions from the Sexual Orientation Regulations to faith groups.

The Prime Minister said in a statement that he is still looking for a solution that will satisfy both gay rights activists and the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

The Tory shadow minister for Equality, Eleanor Laing, told that she would like to see a compromise, but that the principle of non-discrimination must not be diluted.

Tory MPs will be given a free vote when the Sexual Orientation Regulations come before the Commons next month.

The regulations set out the practical ways in which the Equality Act, passed in 2006, will be enforced.

Justin Hinchcliffe, a gay Tory who is chairman of Tottenham Conservatives and a member of the National Conservative Convention, has criticised the Early Day Motion put forward by Mr Younger-Ross.

“The gay community has friends and foes in all mainstream political parties – the range of signatories on this EDM proves this,” he said.

“The LibDems like to claim to have the best and most comprehensive approach to lesbian and gay equality. Yet it is one of their own MPs who put forward this motion to allow discrimination to continue.”

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