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Magistrate not allowed to refuse gay adoption cases

PinkNews Staff Writer March 2, 2007
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A Christian who claimed that he should be allowed to pick and choose which adoption cases he would hear as a magistrate has failed to win an employment tribunal.

62-year-old Andrew McClintock brought his legal action against the Lord Chancellor, claiming that his Bible-influenced opinions should allow him to be excused from approving gay adoptions.

He resigned from the South Yorkshire Courts Panel after being informed he would not be allowed to opt-out of cases that he felt would conflict with his religious views.

Yesterday the tribunal ruled against him.

“Gay couples have human rights too,” the tribunal said, according to the Daily Mail.

“To suggest Mr McClintock’s human rights are being infringed by refusing to allow him to opt out of a situation whereby he might feel forced to discriminate against same-sex couples strikes us as being wrong.”

Mr McClintock’s legal action had been backed by the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, some of whose members petitioned the Queen earlier this year protesting the introduction of the Sexual Orientation Regulations.

The regulations protect gay, bisexual and lesbian people from discrimination when accessing goods and services, and are due to become law in April.

In January the tribunal heard evidence yesterday from Dean Byrd, who is a prominent promoter of so-called conversion therapy as a “cure” for homosexuality.

“The most reputable scientists would agree that the research on children raised by same-sex couples is in its infancy,” Dr Byrd said, according to The Yorkshire Post.

“However, in spite of the many flaws in the very limited pool of rigorous studies, there appears to be an emerging theme.

“Children raised by same-sex couples exhibit poor outcomes not so dissimilar to those raised by divorced heterosexual parents.”

Dr Byrd flew in from Utah to share his opinions on gay parenting with the tribunal.

He is Vice-President of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).

NARTH supports so-called conversion therapy and lobbies the American Psychiatric Association to re-label gay people mentally ill.

The Sheffield tribunal’s ruling seemed to accept some of Dr Byrd’s testimony:

“Expert opinion is divided as to whether or not it is in the child’s best interests to be placed into the care of or adopted by same sex couples,” they said.

The Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship claimed the tribunal was putting gay rights above children’s rights.

“He was simply asking to be allowed to act in accordance with his Christian conscience and not be involved in cases where adoption into a gay household might be an outcome,” spokeswoman Andrea Minichiello Williams told the Daily Mail.

“The fact that the court system could not accommodate him is an example of the exclusion of Christians from public life.”

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