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UK Couples Loses Right to Foster Care Over Views on Homosexuality

A UK court has ruled against an Evangelical Christian couple, Eunice and Owen Johns, who claimed they were discriminated against by their town council. The Derby city council rejected the couple's foster care application over their insistence on teaching the children that homosexuality is morally wrong.

The Guardian reports: Johns

The couple had hoped to foster five- to 10-year-olds.

The case was the latest to be brought by conservative evangelicals, led by the Christian Legal Centre, over their supporters' right to discriminate specifically against gay people and not be bound by equality regulations. All the cases have so far been lost.

Said the court in a statement: "No one is asserting that Christians (or, for that matter, Jews or Muslims) are not 'fit and proper' persons to foster or adopt. No one is seeking to de-legitimise Christianity or any other faith or belief. On the contrary, it is fundamental to our law and our way of life that everyone is equal before the law and equal as a human being ... entitled to dignity and respect. We are, however, entitled, to take judicial notice of the fact that, whereas the sharia is still understood in many places as making homosexuality a capital offence, the Church of England permits its clergy, so long as they remain celibate, to enter into civil partnerships. We live in this country in a democratic and pluralistic society, in a secular state not a theocracy."

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  1. "...the Church of England permits its clergy, so long as they remain celibate, to enter into civil partnerships."

    Haha, what a joke. A sad joke. I wonder how many of these clergymen are celibate.

    Posted by: JT | Feb 28, 2011 2:31:36 PM


  2. I'm going to schedule a good cry over this when I have some free time.

    Posted by: Wes | Feb 28, 2011 2:31:36 PM


  3. At least England is trying to do something.
    If this happend in the US,well it wouldn't
    happen in the US. Good for England.

    Posted by: terryp | Feb 28, 2011 2:48:46 PM


  4. At least England is trying to do something.
    If this happend in the US,well it wouldn't
    happen in the US. Good for England.

    Posted by: terryp | Feb 28, 2011 2:48:46 PM

    Terry - you are Correct - but make NO mistake the Right Wing wackjobs WILL TRY to USE this CASE as a "SEEEEE,TOLDYA SO..." BS line.....here.


    Posted by: Disgusted American | Feb 28, 2011 2:59:15 PM


  5. UK = mildly superior.
    /packing my bags.

    Posted by: Renan | Feb 28, 2011 3:01:02 PM


  6. For once proud to be a Brit but mark my words that the Tories are not trying to rewrite the laws as we know it.

    Posted by: Rowan | Feb 28, 2011 3:28:38 PM


  7. I know it's not nice to gloat... but.. LOSERS!!!

    Posted by: Tom Stoppard | Feb 28, 2011 3:40:05 PM


  8. Discrimination against private belief. People are entitled to their rights regardless of what they believe, even if those views are objectionable. Frankly, it's illiberal and authoritarian, and likely wouldn't happen in the U.S. due to the First Amendment.

    Posted by: Xtab | Feb 28, 2011 3:41:44 PM


  9. Although I would never want a child to be taught that homosexuality is wrong this is a bit over-the-top. Why shouldn't they be allowed to be foster parents? What if Mulims wanted to be foster parents? Could they be banned from doing so because they might raise the child to be a terrorist? Or fat parents might teach their child poor eating habits and force the child into a lifelong struggled with their weight. Everyone has different beliefs. I think the best thing to do is to EDUCATE this couples about homosexuality and their silly religious beliefs, not ban them from helping a child in need.

    Posted by: Cole | Feb 28, 2011 3:49:52 PM


  10. And that is why I love living here... the Courts are socially enlightened. Lets hope all those haters are weeded out and foster children are raised by families who teach them that everyone is born equal. Now, if only Kate and Wills can make a gay baby...

    Posted by: Edith Pie-Eater | Feb 28, 2011 3:55:56 PM


  11. Religion is not the barrier to fostering children, the homophobia is. They can be religious all they want without being overtly prejudiced. There are plenty of criteria for foster parenting, the government shouldn't just hand over children to bigots willy nilly in the name of free speech. Yes, a Muslim who says they will teach children that infidels must die should be barred from being foster parents. A Muslim couple who is generally accepting of others should not be barred. Religion is not the issue, its the specific beliefs that are damaging and stigmatizing. Kind of like how they don't hand kids over to white supremacists, regardless of how they justify their bigotry.

    Posted by: Wes | Feb 28, 2011 4:03:06 PM


  12. Normally, you can't apply logic to foster parents that would also allow courts/politicians to enable or uphold eugenics, but courts/politicians do this all the time to their shame. So, if they can't be stopped from raising their own kids on such grounds, what excuse is there to prevent them from being foster parents? Now we are saying that children can be removed from their parent's custody based on the parent's religious or political beliefs? This is normally considered completely unacceptable.

    Posted by: anon | Feb 28, 2011 4:06:08 PM


  13. XTAB, they have a right to their beliefs, they don't have an inherent right to foster parenting. The government does and should screen candidates based on criteria, views that are potentially damaging to a child included.

    Posted by: Wes | Feb 28, 2011 4:06:08 PM


  14. "The Derby city council rejected the couple's foster care application over their INSISTENCE on TEACHING THE CHILDREN that homosexuality is morally wrong."

    Please read that sentence again carefully everyone, noting the capitalized words.

    They expect the government to hand kids over to them while they INSIST on TEACHING said children their own, personal prejudiced views on homosexuality. They could seriously make a child's life hell as a result.

    A child's right to not be placed with bigots overrides and perceived right of bigots to be foster parents.

    Posted by: Wes | Feb 28, 2011 4:09:28 PM


  15. Good for England. Fat chance for that sort of separation of church and state here in America just yet, but hopefully soon.

    Lets hope it doesn't take an Egypt style uprising to finally achieve.

    Posted by: Taylor Siluwé | Feb 28, 2011 4:23:25 PM


  16. No, WES, that's Andy Towle talking, not the Guardian report. The couple were asked if they would tell their children that homosexuality is a good thing, and they said they wouldn't. They weren't insisting on it. The people insisting on teaching children certain social values are the Derby council, not the parents.

    And yes, parents don't have an inherent right to foster parenting, and they should meet minimum criteria, but I feel uncomfortable adding political and social beliefs to such criteria. Typically in the U.S. you need to be of age, hold down a steady job, pass a criminal background check and not do any drugs. You can be a white supremacist and provide foster care. Typically, though, white supremacists are drug abusers and can't hold down jobs!

    Posted by: Xtab | Feb 28, 2011 4:25:28 PM


  17. Problem is that you deny other people the right to contract for the sake of protecting a minority. And the way you do that is not by simply passing laws to protect that minority (which you should anyways), but passing laws aimed at transforming a backwards majority. In this sense, those agreeing with the foster parents having their rights taken away are the ultimate conservatives: you want a society that holds and protects certain values, not one focused mainly on protecting liberty. The only difference between you and the conservatives is that your views are "socially enlightened" -- I agree with those views, I'm gay and want people to like me too, but I can't force them.

    Posted by: Xtab | Feb 28, 2011 4:25:41 PM


  18. I'm more concerned with the kids than changing prejudiced religious people's hearts and minds. I don't need them to "like me". But I don't think white supremacists should be foster parents and I don't think homophobes should either. People can raise their own kids however they want but if they're looking after someone else's, thats a different story. Some freedoms shouldn't exist, the 'right' to raise other people's children regardless of how damaging that environment might be among them.

    Posted by: Wes | Feb 28, 2011 4:36:39 PM


  19. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh2sWSVRrmo

    "Won't somebody please think of the children!"

    See, it's the same argument that conservatives make about gay foster parents. It'll be bad for the kids, it'll corrupt them, because kids are so malleable and innocent. So we've got to ban stuff, and censor stuff, and we've got to protect the children. We can't let Ned Flanders get his hands on our kids! It's not because you want to force your social values on them, not at all! Gasp! How dare I say such a thing!

    Posted by: Xtab | Feb 28, 2011 4:45:48 PM


  20. Children have a right to be protected from bigoted foster parents.

    Posted by: DH | Feb 28, 2011 4:47:50 PM


  21. Ban stuff and censor stuff? No, just not hand other people's kids over to them. World of difference there.

    And yes, some views should be considered acceptable and others not.

    Gay parents who teach their kids that heterosexuality is evil shouldn't be foster parents either.

    It seems like you're belittling the very important point that yes, kids are vulnerable at such a formative age and that these kind of considerations are actually quite serious.

    It shouldn't be "anything goes" in the name of free speech when we're talking about real children being placed in foster care.

    Posted by: Wes | Feb 28, 2011 4:54:03 PM


  22. Yes, you think the state should ban foster parents from taking care of kids if those parents have views you don't agree with or find personally offensive. I take the liberal view that the state should be neutral regarding political belief, and not privilege certain beliefs over others. You can have the last word.

    Posted by: Xtab | Feb 28, 2011 5:09:07 PM


  23. I don't care about "conservative" or "liberal" labels, or the last word for that matter. I just think its important that there be significant considerations before placing children in foster care. You have argued here that neo-nazis should have no barrier to foster parenting. I think there needs to be a line and yes, it will always come down to subjectivity. I'm okay with that, I don't have a strict political philosophy to be concerned with maintaining the consistency of. I just don't support an adult's free speech rights taking priority over the welfare of someone else's child.

    Posted by: Wes | Feb 28, 2011 5:23:23 PM


  24. "No, WES, that's Andy Towle talking, not the Guardian report."

    Okay, Xtab, let's look at the exact words used in the Guardian article to describe the reason the couple was rejected: "..because they insisted on their right to tell young foster children that homosexuality is morally wrong."

    Now, let's look at Andy Towle's paraphrase: "...over their insistence on teaching the children that homosexuality is morally wrong."

    Without hearing from the social workers themselves, I'd take anything the Guardian publishes with a grain of salt (it could have been something much more nefarious that was said by the couple.
    But your suggestions that Andy's paraphrase doesn't match up with the Guardian's is obviously baseless.
    There is no discimination against anyone's religious belief here. What if a foster parenting applicant insisted on teaching kids that black people are the spawn of Satan or that Christians are evil and to be reviled? That, too would be damaging and could seed potential violent, hateful or self-loathing tendencies in a child. If the agency would accept those forms of problematic parenting and not this couple's, then that would be discriminatory. Without any such evidence, this couple has no basis to claim discrimination.

    Foster parents are always screened to find homes where a child can feel safe and secure, healthy and well-cared-for.

    No one has a "right" to be entrusted with other people's children, let alone without any regard to the well-being of those children.

    Posted by: GregV | Feb 28, 2011 6:35:34 PM


  25. I agree with WES on this. It's not the prospective foster parents' religion that makes them unfit, but their plan to inculcate discriminatory hatred in their charges.

    I think they would have trouble here in Washington State (though that might depend on what "region" they were in). There are lots of rules when becoming a foster parent and if you choose to be a foster parent, then it's your obligation to follow those rules. Even when you don't like them. Been there, done that.

    Posted by: David R. | Feb 28, 2011 6:37:37 PM


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