25 January 2007

Catholic adoption agencies demand exemption from serving gay couples

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in the UK wrote to PM Tony Blair over the Equality Act, threatening to close Catholic adoption agencies rather than serve gay couples as required by the non-discrimination provisions of the new law. Full essay.


Anonymous said...

Would you consider the UK Catholic Church request reasonable if the stated agencies do not accept any government funds but only private donations.

Anonymous said...

I must say that I did think from the onset (ie, on reading the headline) that the exemption was reasonable, but you've argued against it very convincingly. You do however rely on viewing adoption agencies (catholic or otherwise) as entities serving the public, like B&Bs and taxis. If instead adoption agencies were viewed as entities serving the people who want to give their children away, and if those people would prefer their children to be brought up in a certain way, would "discrimination" not be reasonable? Extending this to other "services" provided by religious organisations, like shelters or food, they are not being paid by those who consume the services, surely the organisation or their donors should be free to choose who they want to offer the services to.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

anonymous 15:26 -

If the adoption agency does not take any public funds, then I think an exception can be made. There may be others who will argue that so long as they benefit from the state in the form of certification or licensing, (thus imparting trustworthiness) they should not be exempted.

I take the view that licensing is a relatively low-cost matter, and thus one can be reasonable.

However, there are certain licences which the state limits, e.g. telecommunication licences, and they are a different proposition. Typically, a state gives out only a handful of such licences, no more than, say, five. In that case, the state can insist that every licensee must comply with public service standards. Even if one licensee refuses to serve, say, senior citizens, because not profitable, that would significantly reduce the options available to such a segment of the demographic. The state would be failing in its duty of equal care to its citizens if it allowed such discrimination by its licensees.

However, I do not think licences for adoption agencies are limited in number and thus a similar rule need not be applied to them.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

anonymous 20:32 -

I think most adoption agencies, as a matter of ethics, would take into consideration the wishes of the giving parent, as well as issues of ethnicity and religion when it comes to deciding what's best for the child. It is not, and should not be, a lottery. I have no problem with adoption agencies taking a host of considerations into account. They should.

As for free donations by religious can charity organisations, let's not forget the state helps them raise funds by giving them tax-exempt status, which might be seen as a some sort of subsidy from the public purse. The very fact that they are licencsed charities also means a certain imprimatur by the state (why else is Singapore's commissioner of charities so busy nowadays?) giving out the message to the donating public that they are worthy, well-run causes.

I therefore will object if they use their state-given advantages to pursue a policy that is contrary to state and societal principles.

Anonymous said...


You had initially stated a reasonable reply when if no government funds were involved that the organisation in line with its principles follows as such.

However, you than contradicted it by saying just because it is licenced as a charity,they should than be forced to abrogate its initial charter principles.

Please note that the charities are required to be licensed similiar to a licence Raj in India.What state imprimatur are you refering to? This organisation is than forced to be unlicensed although its activities are not for profit and further requests for funds are undertaken by its own adherents.
Further, in UK, your inclined parties are free to set up organisations such to cater to such inclined parties.

Well, it just shows that denominator being refered by YB not to the principles being accepted but it shows to be imposed.
YB than claims that since state and society principles are violated , they should be objected.

Fine, the argument also follows that you do not wish to follow the local society norms when it does not match your ideas.

Anon 15:26

Rajan said...

But should adoption be considered an avenue of equality and non-discrimination? The problem with this idea is that the child isn't served on the alter of equality--the entire premise of the adoption process is to find a suitable home for the orphaned and abandoned, not provide the right of those who otherwise cannot biologically reproduce to parent.

While I'm not convinced that heterosexual couples are necessarily better parents (especially, with the huge number of children without adoptive parents--adoptions tend to favour infants), it is not to say that same-sex couples are just as good as heterosexual ones.

After all, the bulk of the research today on homosexual couples parenting show a very, very small number of couples that actually have children. And then there's a possibility that same-sex couples attempt, perhaps successfully, to compensate for the lack of "normal" (socially at least) parents.

But when homosexuality becomes a norm in society, and kids aren't taunted in school for having two mommies--would the similarities of benefits in being adopted by a homosexual couple and a heterosexual couple remain?

So while I'm not convinced that children would be brought up in homosexual homes as they would in heterosexual ones. After all, heterosexual couples clearly mimics the natural biological outcome (two guys can't give birth to a kid)

I think the best policy ought to be heterosexual couples being favoured over homosexual couples (with the opportunity given for same-sex couples to adopt--being the ward of two men or two women is better than the ward of the state). In other words, there shouldn't be a 'right to adopt', or equality in adoption. Just recognition that living with two parents of the same gender is a hell of a lot better than living under state foster care.

On non-discrimination, I think businesses ought to have the choice of which customers to serve and which they wouldn't want to--the fact the state licenses them so is a horrible excuse by the state should have the right to intervene.

It is not as if the fact B&B's and restaurants exist is because of state licensing - licensing, actually, is the barrier of entry. And licenses were instituted, or at least maintained, for a reason: for safety standards.

And why do homosexuals want equality this way? Its not as if they would get good service if establishments is forced to serve them (or that service be denied for other reasons). Just choose another restaurant that values your money more than it values who you sleep with.

Its a bit different from Rosa Parks: buses are run by the city; there isn't other alternatives. B&B's aren't.

Lau Min-tsek said...

I don't agree that if no state fund is involved, anti-discrimination laws should be exempted.

A restaurant is most likely to be privately owned with no state funding. Can a PRIVATE restaurant than refuse to serve a customer based on discrimination of race, gender or sexuality, if such discrimination is against state laws?

Just to open up the debate, in the US, some states have gender equality laws that require private social clubs that are MEN only to allow women to join IF it is shown that BUSINESS dealings occur in the private clubs. If it is purely a social club they are exempted. I read that some clubs where sucessfully sued and forced to allow women in when it is shown that members do discuss business in the clubs. The idea is that there should be equality in business opportunity.

I think the above idea can be extended to equal opportunity for all to adopt children to form a family.