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They fostered 28 children in seven years
Couple fight 'gay' clause in foster contract
Two married Christian ministers have refused to sign a new fostering contract which they claim asked them to promote homosexuality. They say it is against their faith however the council say it is designed to prevent discrimination.
Vincent and Pauline Matherick gave up their 11-year-old foster son because of a dispute over the wording of a council fostering contract.
The couple, from Chard, had taken in 28 at risk children into their home and had been caring for the boy since 2005.
But changes to the Equality Act on sexual orientation meant they felt they were unable to sign the council’s new contract because they said it clashed with their Christian beliefs.
Somerset County Council said the statement was "in line with similar equality promises made by every other local authority across the UK and not peculiar to Somerset".
Pauline is a great-grandmother and a minister
Mrs Matherick, 61, said Somerset County Council told them it would take them off the active fostering register unless they agreed to ‘promote’ homosexuality in their home.
The boy has never shown any homosexual tendencies and is a practising Christian. He has since been taken to a children’s home.
Mr Matherick, 65, said: “We are not anti-gays, or anyone else, but we were specifically being asked to ‘promote’ homosexuality, and as practising Christians and church ministers, we could not condone that.”
Mr Matherick, a former Somerset County Council employee, told the BBC he did not want to make a fuss, but it was important to fight for Christians' rights, which he felt were being eroded.
He said he was banned from promoting Christianity to any child in his care, yet according to his reading of the contract, he was supposed to take children to Gay Associations on the child's request.
Linda Barnett, head of children's services at the council said in a statement: "Mr and Mrs Matherick have been very dedicated foster carers for Somerset over a long period of time.
"No children have been removed from them because of an issue relating to equalities and there are no plans to remove children for this reason.
"Mr and Mrs Matherick were concerned that they might be expected to promote homosexuality. This is not the expectation of Children’s Social Care.
"The statement is in line with similar equality promises made by every other local authority across the UK and not peculiar to Somerset."
last updated: 06/12/07
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