Court to rule whether Christians are ‘fit’ to foster

1 November 2010

In a landmark case, the High Court is to be asked to rule on whether experienced Christians are ‘fit people’ to adopt or foster children – or whether they will be excluded from doing so due to the recognition of homosexual rights – regardless of the needs of the child.

Derby City Council and Eunice and Owen Johns’ legal team have taken the unusual step of asking the Court to interpret the Sexual Orientation Regulations and the Equality Act because of a long-standing dispute the Council has with the Johns, who are both highly experienced foster carers, but whose traditional Christian views have left them penalised under legislation enacted by the former Government in the name of equality. This ‘equality’, however, privileges homosexual rights over those of others.

In January 2007, the Johns applied to Derby City Council to be respite carers for a single child aged 5-10 years old. However, in August 2007, the Claimants’ orthodox Christian views on the practice of homosexuality and their commitment to attending church with their children came to the notice of a social worker. As a result of this they were withdrawn from the process.

The Johns believe that to deny Christians the opportunity to be carers will deeply affect children’s welfare, not least because of the desperate shortage of foster carers. Furthermore, if the presumed impact of a loving Christian couple on a ‘hypothetical’ child of a homosexual disposition would be as damaging and discriminatory as the Council appears to suggest, enough even to require a potential blanket ban on fostering by all Christians in the United Kingdom, then the question has to be asked as to the danger of a vulnerable Christian child being placed in a homosexual household, or with non-religious carers, because of the ‘impact’ on the child. This question is never asked.

The need for more adoptive parents in Derby is acute, and has been for a decade.  In 2000 the local paper, the Derby Telegraph, helped launch a new national website ( dedicated to adoption and fostering after recognizing the county’s massive need.

The Johns have been advised in their case by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), and have instructed the leading Human Rights barrister, Paul Diamond, to act for the Johns.

Andrea Minichiello-Williams, director of the CLC, said: “The Johns are a loving Christian couple, who have in the past, and would in the future, give a wonderful home to a vulnerable child.  Research clearly establishes that children flourish best in a family with both a mother and father in a committed relationship, like the Johns have.

“Many Catholic adoption agencies have been forced to close because of their belief that vulnerable children should not be placed with homosexual couples, and medical advisers on adoption panels risk being dismissed if they decline to place children with homosexual couples, even if their reasoning is premised on scientific research as well as religious belief. Now, one of the issues before the Court is whether Christian couples, who have traditional views on sexual ethics, are ‘fit and proper persons’ to foster (and, by implication, adopt). That the Court even needs to consider this is a remarkable reversal in the concept of the public good and the traditional definition of sexual morality.”

The Court may well wish to consider the Government’s own statistics on the numbers of homosexuals living in the UK. These statistics were not available at the time of the passing of the SORs or the Equality Act.  The first ever official count of the homosexual population, by the Office of National Statistics last month, has found that only one in 100 adults is homosexual. The figure explodes the assumption – long promoted by the homosexual lobby – that the number is up to ten times higher than this at one in ten.

Another 0.5 per cent of the population consider themselves bisexual, according to the figures gathered from questions put to nearly 250,000 – the biggest survey possible outside a full national census.

This means that, in total, around 1.5 per cent of the population is either homosexual or bisexual.  In 2003 the former Government published and endorsed estimates by the Stonewall lobby group which said that between five and seven per cent of the adult population was homosexual.

Andrea Minichiello Williams added: “If the Court believes that Christian views on homosexuality can be discriminated against, the State has taken a position on a moral question; namely that such religious belief is morally problematic.

“Despite the intentions behind the Sexual Orientation Regulations and the Equality Act, the Courts are still able to establish jurisprudence, ensuring liberty for both parties to this conflict”.

The case will be heard on 1 November in the High Court sitting in Nottingham and is expected to last 2 days.

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