Christian foster carers campaign for re-instatement

6 April 2011

Owen and Eunice Johns, together with Derby City Council, had previously made a joint application to the High Court, asking the Court to make a declaration on how the Council should treat an application from potential foster carers who were unwilling to promote the practice of homosexuality to a small child.

As was widely reported at the time, although the particular Judicial declaration on the balancing of rights that the parties sought was not given, the Judges used the opportunity provided to make a forceful case against the right to manifest Christian beliefs in the face of equalities legislation, stating that homosexual rights trumped freedom of religion in the context of fostering, that Councils can require the promotion of homosexuality and that it would be legal for Councils to reject foster applications from Christians on the basis that they would not promote homosexuality.

Eunice and Owen Johns’ long-standing application to foster children had previously been halted because of their Christian views. Yet, technically, it is still outstanding.

In a letter to be handed to Ms Harris, Head of Adoption and Fostering at the City Council’s HQ in Derby today (6 April), the Johns, backed in person by many supporters, will formally request that Derby City Council re-instate and continue considering the Johns’ application to become foster carers.

In the letter, the Johns say: “You know that we would love and care for any child in our care and you are aware of our views on sexual ethics.  However, the National Minimum Standards (NMS) on fostering, the Statutory Guidance, the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010 and the Council’s own Equality and Diversity Policy do not require that ‘positive attitudes be demonstrated towards homosexuality’ (paragraph 101 of the High Court  judgment). Such a requirement is not mandatory.”

They add: “We believe that there is still space in the law for Christians to be accommodated in the fostering process and that the Council can make a ‘permissible accommodation’ which would conform with NMS 7.2 and the Council’s Equality and Diversity Policy and that it can interpret the relevant policies in a manner that balances the rights of the homosexual community and the rights of those who subscribe to biblical views on sexual ethics. The Council can still comply with their duties under the Children’s Act 1989.”

Therefore Derby City Council can choose to formulate a more tolerant policy towards Christians who desire to foster children.

The couple, who are being supported in their action by the Christian Legal Centre, cite a recent Public Opinion Poll that was carried out by nationally-respected pollsters, ComRes. In their letter, the Johns add: “The Poll clearly demonstrates that the majority of the public believe that people with our views should be permitted to foster and we believe that the Council should listen to the electorate.”

The results of the national poll will be released on Friday. The couple’s application comes just four weeks prior to the local Elections in Derby. The couple await the Council’s response.

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