No equality please we’re Catholic
God, this is revolting.
Ruth Kelly is trying to water down new anti-discrimination laws to let Catholic adoption agencies turn away gay couples. Backed by Tony Blair, the embattled Communities secretary is at the centre of a full-scale cabinet row over the new gay rights laws…The Catholic church has threatened to close its seven adoption agencies rather than comply with laws that forbid them to discriminate against gay couples. The Prime Minister is supporting her efforts to water down new laws that are supposed to guarantee gay people equal rights to goods and services.
Well, great. Because the Catholic church has such a shining history of taking care of children, doesn’t it.
Of the 2,900 children put up for adoption last year, the agencies placed around 4 per cent. But they found homes for around a third of the “difficult-to-place” children. Ms Kelly argues it is these children that would suffer if Catholic couples were no longer encouraged to adopt by church-run agencies. Gay campaigners argue, however, that gay parents are themselves more likely to adopt the most vulnerable children and nothing should be done to bar them from the system. Ms Kelly refuses to say whether she regards homosexuality as a sin. She has defended failing to vote for civil partnerships or gay adoption on the grounds that they are “issues of conscience”.
What’s that supposed to mean? If it’s a vote, it’s an issue of law; she’s in the government; what right does she have to refuse to vote on an issue not of conscience but of what Lord Whatsit the other day called ‘church teaching’?
Oh dear – I’m coming over all militant atheist. If Ruth Kelly wants to inspire a lot more people to turn militant atheist, she’s going the right way about it.
Ms Kelly stands accused of preparing to give in to homophobic lobbying from Roman Catholic bishops. It seems that these worthies, who present themselves as champions of children’s rights in their relentless campaign against abortion, would rather see kids remain in institutions than hand them over to same-sex adoptive parents. Faced with equality legislation that would make such discrimination illegal, they’ve lobbied the Government and found sympathetic listeners in the Prime Minister and Ms Kelly who – this is not a joke – is the cabinet minister responsible for equality.
Yeah well – we know they preferred to see them in institutions in Ireland rather than hand them over to their own mothers, in many cases not because the mothers were abusive but because they were unmarried. We know they have a very warped idea of what is immoral and what isn’t. Forbidding condoms during a pandemic, moral; keeping children in institutions rather than letting them go to gay parents, moral; being gay, shockingly immoral and sinful and bad.
If I were thinking about how best to promote the welfare of children in need of adoptive parents, I certainly wouldn’t take much notice of an organisation with such a scandalous record. No doubt Ms Kelly takes a different view, but then she would: she’s a devout Catholic, and in a sane world that would disqualify her from taking decisions which might provide special treatment to an organisation of which she is a member. Those of us with a surer grasp of morality are entitled to explain to Ms Kelly that for the second time in a month she faces something called a conflict of interest, and the Prime Minister’s support cannot alter that fact.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who is set to become the leader of England’s Catholics, recently warned the Government not to “impose on us conditions which contradict our moral values”. “It is simply unacceptable to suggest that the resources of… adoption agencies … can work in co-operation with public authorities only if the faith communities accept not just the legal framework but also the moral standards being touted by the Government,” he sermonised last November. When it comes to Mr Blair, the archbishop is preaching to the converted, according to senior ministers. The Prime Minister first asked Alan Johnson, then responsible, to include a loophole in anti-discrimination legislation to allow the Catholic ban on gay parents early last year. When he refused, the PM moved him and handed the equalities brief to Ms Kelly, whom he knew could be trusted to back him on the issue.
Well what a pretty story.