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No blanket exemption

Nick Robinson | 11:40 UK time, Thursday, 25 January 2007

Adoption was not discussed at this morning's Cabinet. The Domestic Affairs committee of the Cabinet has not even fixed a date for its final meeting on the issue. Nevertheless, it is now clear that there will be no blanket exemption from the new Equality Act for the Catholic Church. Tony Blair's ministers would not accept one.

This week they have lined up one by one to say so publicly. The charge was led by the Lord Chancellor - the man in charge of the law. Since then, three ministers have gone public. Peter Hain, Alan Johnson and Harriet Harman. Can you spot the connection between them? All are running for deputy leader. They are, as a result, more concerned with how they're seen publicly than how they're viewed by the current leader of their party.

No-one looks over their shoulder anymore in fear at what Downing Street might say or do.

Tony Blair insists that he has never wanted an exemption for the church. He was - his aides say - merely trying to find "a way through" the practical problems and to tread carefully around religious sensitivities. He, and communities secretary Ruth Kelly, are said to have only wanted a temporary exemption or a transition period to ensure that no adoption agencies shut up shop the day after the Equality Act comes into force.

That is not, however, the impression that they've given to Cabinet colleagues and gay rights campaigners. Hence, the - still unresolved - row.

Many ministers want to "face down" the Catholic church. They believe either that they are bluffing or that the cases they deal with - around 4% of the total - will quickly be taken up by other agencies. Ruth Kelly points out that the Catholic agencies deal with 33% of the difficult cases and still help the thousands of children they have placed in the past. There's been much talk of people on either side resigning. My guess is that it will not come to that and some form of transition arrangements will be agreed.

This is a serious debate about competing rights and strongly held convictions. I am struck by the level of vilification being meted out to those with strongly held religious views. It is stated, as if fact, that Tony Blair is acting under orders from his Catholic wife who's acting under orders from the Archbishop who's acting under orders, presumably, from the Pope.

No-one who has met Cherie Blair would believe that a quick call from a bishop would have her quaking. Ruth Kelly is accused of putting her religion before her principles. One Catholic MP who defended her publicly has since received hate mail.

Gay public figures have, of course, experienced vilification for many years and often from religious people. Allow me to delicately suggest, however, that the attitudes being displayed now towards Catholics in public life must feel to them like a form of prejudice and discrimination.


"the attitudes being displayed now towards Catholics in public life must feel to them like a form of prejudice and discrimination"

There is one important difference. The religious viewpoint on gay rights is based on a belief or faith in something that cannot be proven. You can 'believe' in anything, but that doesn't make it right to force your opinions on others.

Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, on the other hand, is sadly very real indeed.

  • 2.
  • At 12:22 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • harry wrote:

i wonder what uk is turning into. Forcing church to give children to Gay against there believe,is bad.We should also remember that muslims also are against Gay adoption.If all this religion close there agencies,it is going to be a blow to uk.

  • 3.
  • At 12:23 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • David Walford wrote:

It is political correctness gone mad. This is not about the well being of children this is about left wing political theory dominating our society. Anyone who has worked in socail services or has looked at our society will realise this is the case. It would seem that recusancy once again is the order of the day for us practising catholics.

  • 4.
  • At 12:24 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • hi wrote:

Everyweek,Gay this Gay that.Are we going to run.Why are we making this Gay stuff so is only someones way of life.

  • 5.
  • At 12:25 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Victoria wrote:


THANK YOU! The level of the vitriolic abuse heaped on practising Christians yesterday was quite shocking. Do those who contributed such comments really see themselves as anti-discrimination?

  • 6.
  • At 12:26 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Let's start a religion that decrees that taxation is against God's law and as a matter of conscience, we must be exempted from it. Oh, and throw in speeding fines, rain, and Mondays. Who's with me?

  • 7.
  • At 12:28 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • M Clark wrote:

Yesterday we were told that children must learn about what it means to be British. The most important virtue of britishness, it seems, is 'tolerance'. However, it is a strange definition of the word 'tolerance' that views and beliefs (particularly Christian ones) which go against the will of the government should not be tolerated.

  • 8.
  • At 12:28 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • cat wrote:

if the criteria for approaching a catholic adoption agency were a marriage recognised by the church this would allow the opt out in a less controversial manner, right?

Nick I agree. There is much vilification of those with religious beliefs.

It is teh rise of secular fundamentalism. Like any fundamentalism it is wrong.

In practicle terms what is this law going to achieve? Why do we need it? How many gay couples are going to want to adopt from a Catholic adoption agency.

(More on my blog)

  • 10.
  • At 12:31 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Alan Finlay wrote:

Dear Nick,

Your blog has encouraged me to post my views. I agree with your delicate conclusion that "the attitudes being displayed now towards Catholics in public life must feel to them like a form of prejudice".

Some commentators and politicians are particularly incensed that Catholics, unlike the state approved Anglican Church, frequently stand up for their beliefs.

There is a residual anti-catholic bigotry in Britain. Secular media and athestic commentators have taken up the gaunlet where the protestants and dissenters left off.

These laws will be similar in effect to the Penal Laws which were only repealed after a long campaign by O'Connel in the 1820s. Effectively the law will proscribe Catholic freedow of association.


  • 11.
  • At 12:33 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Richard Marriott wrote:

I am sick and tired of this bossy Government feeling it has to legislate on everything. Gays are rightfully accepted now in all walks of life, but this crazy adoption situation is just going far too far. I am enraged by the welter of legislation coming from this Government telling us how to think and act. Britain is fast becoming an Orwellian nightmare – all we need now are the Thought Police. It makes me want to be a misogynistic, homophobic, smoking, fox hunting crazy man.

  • 12.
  • At 12:33 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

I feel that the attitude of Alan Johnson and his cronies reflect the ridiculous mood in government that they have to be PC at all costs. Mr Johnson is clearly saying that he would rather disciminate against religious beliefs than against gay and lesbian rights. By refusing the rights of a parent to say that they would like their child to be adopted through a Catholic agency to a Catholic couple, he is discriminating against them on religious grounds. This is very typical of a hypocritical government that would rather not offend any groups that are too vocal - it would appear that the louder you shout, the more rights you have. I wonder if this would happen if the adoption agencies were Muslim run?

  • 13.
  • At 12:34 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • william mccartney wrote:

As in the past Christians must decide whom to obey.

  • 14.
  • At 12:35 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • James wrote:

Is this attitude you have detected towards the Catholics objections also to do with the ongoing determination by those in public life / power of a Humanist "religious" belief to remove / dimish / deny those of a Diety "religous" belief?

'the attitudes being displayed now towards Catholics in public life must feel to them like a form of prejudice and discrimination'

Well, if Catholics in general feel like that, perhaps they should do a reality check and contemplate what the reaction might have been if it had been a senior Imam who had written to the government in those terms.

I'm old enough to remember a label-button worn by feminists about Marget Thatcher: It's not that she's a women it's that she's THAT woman. It seems to me to have a certain resonance in this issue: it's not that they're Catholics - it's who they are.

Normally, the Red-Tops would be spluttering in outrage at gay adoptees - not this time Could it be that they sense the public has had enough of Tony's religious sensibilities - when it seems that he can't even summon up the nerve to become a Catholic in case it offends someone. That Dan Brown could only abuse Opus Dei because it already had a reputation as a cross between freemasons and some weird manipulative cult. And that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has very little right to speak about the care of children since his 'naivety' over Father Michael Hill.

  • 16.
  • At 12:38 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Denis Foley wrote:

If it is to be unlawful to discriminate against homosexuals in regard to adoption, how can it be lawful to discriminate against paedophiles who may wish to adopt?

Both groups claim to be unable to be anything different to what God made them.

  • 17.
  • At 12:39 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Those with religious beliefs at odds with the homosexual agenda are, in effect, being expected to keep them private and leave them at home. Would that the gay and lesbian community would do the same, how different the media would be without the constant barrage of propaganda.

  • 18.
  • At 12:39 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Derrick Scott wrote:

I am at a loss why an individuals conscience can apply to an organisation/business. A business cannot have a conscience therefore discrimination on this basis cannot be allowed.

  • 19.
  • At 12:41 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • PETE WOOD wrote:

So, you cannot be exempted from the law of the land because of your religion.

Sikh's wearing crash helmets anyone?

  • 20.
  • At 12:41 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • macrascal wrote:

I agree with much of what you say. There was a contributor to on The Moral Maze last night who repeatedly compared The Catholic Church to The Klu Klux Klan!

There should be a partnership between Catholic Agencies and other Agencies to make sure all children who need adopting are.

  • 21.
  • At 12:43 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Dan wrote:

Your last point is absolutely correct. This issue has become less to do with equality and the rights of children and more to do with giving the Catholic church a bloody nose and anyone else who holds to traditional moral views of family.

  • 22.
  • At 12:44 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • David Reid wrote:

I think that it is perfectly reasonable to question Ruth Kelly's ability to act in the best interests of equality for Gay men and Lesbians when she is a member of a Catholic organisation which suggests that it's members should prioritise the policies and beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church in their political decision making and voting. The Catholic church has lobbied against every piece of legislation which would decriminalise sex between men and which would recognise gay and Lesbian relationships. The Pope calls gay people "intrinsically disordered" a pseudo-scientific view not held by the medical, social or psycological establishments. Given that most media reports that Kelly wishes to grant exemption on the grounds of religious belief against the wishes of most of the government and I suspect her department, one could not help but be suspicious that she is favouring the Catholic church over fairness to gay men and lesbians either because of her membership of Opus Dei, the Catholic church or her religious convictions and beliefs. She has no voting record of supporting legislation specifically benefitting gay and Lesbian people. Given these things it is not unreasonable to suggest that she is an inappropriate equalities minister. This does not mean that all Catholic people or all religious people would be inappropriate in her position or any other. If she had supported or been present during voting for other legislation or not supported a religious exemption then I would have no grounds to complain about her performance in relation to equalities.

  • 23.
  • At 12:44 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Elizabeth Cudd wrote:

As a 52yr old adoptee about to enter into the Catholic Church on April 7th of this year, I have an opinion on gay or lesbians being allowed to adopt babies or children. Children have fears we adults must have forgotten, they are embarassed as teenagers by older or outspoken parents - teenagers who have two fathers or two mothers will suffer no matter how loved and cared for they are. Children want a mother and a father who love them, encourage them to do well and are there for them at every hurdle, how can two gay chaps explain to a 13yr old about her periods and how is the rugby team going to react to two lesbian ladies on the touch line.

This country needs normality, that is in the family and in our faith whether it be Catholic,C of E, Muslim or Buddhist. Do not send out children into a strange tough world by allowing them to be adopted by two fathers or two mothers - they want a mother and a father.

When I was adopted it was well done and organised, I still had to live with the fact that my mother had given me up, however I had the strongest family support and loved my adoptive parents so much. Heaven help me if I had two fathers or two mothers and times have not changed because it is 2007

Wake up in Parliament what right do you have to send children out into the world without a normal family to look after them.

  • 24.
  • At 12:47 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Tony Palmer wrote:

A question:
How can the 'Defender of the Faith' give royal assent to a bill that includes concepts that are at variance with the teachings of that faith?

  • 25.
  • At 12:47 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Alan Bush wrote:

Since when has the adoption of children been a "service" to anyone???????????? Children by definition should be part of a family and by definition a family is Mum and Dad and kids, not two mothers and kids or two fathers and kids.

Adoption is not a right it is a privilege and one that same sex couples should not be given. Childeren do not ask to be adopted and Society owes them a duty of care that is far greater thanthe rights of a few homosexuals. If homosexuals cannot stomach natural acts like heterosexual sexual intercourse then they are at liberty to find someone of the opposite sex to be a surrogate "part" parent and then go through the courts to have their parental or maternal rights upheld if they have them.

This is a no brainer moral question no one is denying homosexuals rights to goods or services which patently does not include the allocation of children, homosexuals can conceive children if that is their desire - naturally - there is no need for them to adopt and any Government Minister right up to the Prime Minister that argues that homosexuals (as singles or couples) should be given the right to adopt should be castigated and ridculed by Society.

  • 26.
  • At 12:47 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Richard Moy (Revd) wrote:

I appreciate Nick Robinson's comments. If you believe that there is a natural order of things, derived from the simple observation that it takes man + woman to make a baby; then there is an enormous logical jump to believe that man + man or woman + woman have a 'right' to a baby when (even given optimum personal fertility) they could never have one in the natural order.

When religious people point out that 'the emporer has no clothes', and get shouted down for what seems an inherently logical position, it is no wonder that they feel victims of prejudice and descrimination

  • 27.
  • At 12:48 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • judy wrote:

Your newslog is interesting Mr Robinson and I don't think there is any doubt that Catholics are now being discriminated against but all of this fuss won't prevent Catholics believing that the practise of homosexuality is wrong, this is a question of conscience and we do not yet have the thought police. Gay people may have solved the problem of discrimination but they will never be able to do anything about their acceptability in certain circles particularly in the privacy of people's homes. We can still like or dislike who we please.

  • 28.
  • At 12:51 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

This issue gets right to the heart of one of our core problems in society - we have no system by which to decide what is right and what is wrong. What do you do when upholding the rights of one group violates the rights of another? It makes a mockery of the word equality - the right of gay couples to adopt is 'more equal' than the right of other people to hold Christian convictions.

A similar issue is currently playing out in universities, where Student Unions are excluding evangelical Christian groups - on the grounds of inclusivity.

We need to stop pretending that everyone believes the same thing and come up with some ways to deal with difference. At the moment, the most vocal win through.

  • 29.
  • At 12:51 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Mike Madigan wrote:

I am a Christian and a member of the Labour Party for 44 years I am dismayed with those who have ambitions for the Deputy Leadership seeking confrontation with the Catholic Church.
Principles of faith is an issue that binds people of many faiths together and the Labour Party membership embraces people of all faiths who will certainly examine the credentials of all of the candidates for the Deputy Leadership of the Party.

  • 30.
  • At 12:52 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • W Mobberley wrote:

It is a very sobering moment for me, finally realising that we have a government which is not just one to disagree with, not one which is merely wrong but one which is actually evil.

This is the enemy. Elected via an unfair system, ignoring the wishes of the vast majority, not there to serve but to indoctrinate.

It is relatively recently that I learned the difference between an autocratic and a totalitarian state.

Autocratic: controlling your behaviour
Totalitarian (ie this one): controlling what you think.

OK, send me to the Coliseum because never, ever in a million years will I ever accept that homosexuality is merely an acceptable alternative lifestyle. It is a perversion and any government which promotes it is pure evil.

  • 31.
  • At 12:57 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Vicky Cronin wrote:

I am a practising Christian, although an Anglican and not a Roman Catholic; I have a daughter who is gay; I am certain that same-sex couples make just as loving and caring adoptive parents as heterosexual couples and I know that there are many children who need to be adopted. HOWEVER, I am appalled that the government thinks it can steamroller the Catholic Church, to whom the issue is so fundamental, into being forced to allow same-sex couples to adopt through their agencies just because political correctness says so. If people don't like the Catholic Church's stance, there are other adoption agencies they can go to. There are always exceptions to rules; the government would be well advised to let this this be one of them. We are well on the way to becoming a non-democratic state!

  • 32.
  • At 12:58 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Mike Hipkins wrote:

So, Nick Robinson feels that those of deeply held religious convictions - in this case Catholics must feel discriminated against. Oh dear - what is this, the teacher taught? Sauce for the Gander? Or is it simply that a belief in anti-discrimination measures is something which can't be compromised away? The Bible has been used to justify everything from Slavery and Apartheid to homophobia and Anti-Semitism. What would Mr. Robinson say if he were to hear Jews called "Christ-Killers" and such a notion being used to justify Treblinka or Sobibor? Or the suggestion that slavery is permissable because African's don't have souls? Both are notions that once, some would have repeated, endorsed and promoted and called themselves good, God fearing Christians. The only difference between Homophobia and other forms of discrimination is that base racism will not be tolerated except in the most obnoxious, extreme circles. It is about time that those would would support ANY form of discrimination are shown up for what they are: a moral anacronism from a poisonous past that deserves to be treated with the same contempt we reserve for the Nazi's or those who supported Apartheid in South Africa.

  • 33.
  • At 12:59 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • R Bell wrote:

The crux of your "delicate suggestion" is that Catholics "must feel" that they are the subject of prejudice and discrimination.They might, but then anyone holding religious views will think that anyone who disagrees with them is wrong, that's the nature of irrational faith.To suggest that previous"vilification" is comparable with current criticism and is in some way balancing a previous wrong is absurd.To vilify someone because they happen to be gay ( a "condition" which can be no more avoided than being black, disabled or a woman )is a long way from criticising someone for choosing to hold a particular and peculiar view of the world.

  • 34.
  • At 01:00 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Anthony Ford wrote:

Nick: As a practising Christian, who believes sexual activity is a matter of morals not just following inclination, I am tired of being called a bigot by those whose reaction has surprised you. They are liberal in name, but not in nature.

  • 35.
  • At 01:01 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Nicolas Long wrote:

Discrimination of all kinds is wrong, and exceptions are always difficult to justify. But freedom of religion is also important and I think you are right to suggest the Catholic Church has received too much stick in the past week. This is part of a wider hostile stance to all religious groups in the press, and on the street.

It's disappointing that religion has become so confused with irrationality in recent years. Come on people, defend objectively every belief you personally hold dear and see afterwards how many you have standing. The fact that you can't make them objectively clear and true does not mean they don't have great worth.

  • 36.
  • At 01:02 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • David H wrote:

Noone should be forced to accept that a same sex partnership is the same, in terms of providing a family upbringing, as a husband & wife. I don't see this as any discrimination, just sensible acceptance of the different strengths of each sex. The most likely best interests of the children would be with a husband & wife, with whom they can relate to with differing needs as they grow up.

This may be more to do with ministers having personal feelings against the Christian church.

On the practical side, are same sex partnerships only allowed to adopt children of the same sex - so they will be able to enter public toilets, changing areas together?

  • 37.
  • At 01:03 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Andy Francis wrote:

I would be very interested to see a poll of the thoughts of the UK on this. I think its completely wrong to be able to adopt children into a same sex relationship. If you are gay then nature says "You can have kids" simple as that. The fact they these people may be able to offer loving homes is nonsense, the ridicule that the child will face at school and in everyday life will be immense.

I am worried what this world is coming to, its just wrong, so wrong.

Andy F

  • 38.
  • At 01:04 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Spartacus wrote:

Matthew Parris has written a typically insightful article on this issue in today's Times (bottom of the page):,,6-2564373,00.html

  • 39.
  • At 01:04 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Andrew Hawkins wrote:

If you're now trying to say that we should feel sorry now for the Catholic bigots because they feel discriminated against (however delicately!!!) perhaps it's time they felt what gay people around the world feel every time the Pope issues one of his vile pronouncements. They would not be able to talk about blacks or other minorities like they do about gays, it's time all discrimination ended. Catholics and those of a religious persuasion should be allowed to practice their beliefs in private but should not be allowed to expose themselves on the street where they may frighten the horses!!!!

  • 40.
  • At 01:05 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Fiona wrote:

Yet one more nail in the death of British freedoms. Whatever happen to Freedom of Conscience? One wonders how long it will be before the freedom of doctors to object to doing abortions is removed as discriminatory against "womens rights"?
British anti-catholic bigotry originally orchestrated by Thomas Cromwell under Henry VIII, then by William Cecil under Elizabeth I, on through the Stuarts, Georges, the Gordon riots etc, is still alive and well it seems. The vitriolic comments made against the Catholic church would have ministers forced to resign if it were said against gays, blacks or muslims.
"We cannot make an exemption for Catholics; why should they have a special place under the law". But Catholics already have a special place under the law. Unlike any other group, they are barred from marrying into royalty, from being Prime Minister or Chancellor. I have yet to see any gay liberal activitists jumping up & down to remove these last lingering vestiges of the massive discrimination catholics have suffered over the past centuries!
Yet in this, the saddest thing is none of the above. It is that while the ministers are banging on about gay rights, no one has spoken about the rights of the children. It is a politically inconvenient fact (supported by many studies) that the best place for children is in a home with a father and mother.
The Catholic adoption agencies may only handle 4%, but within this 4% are one third of the countries most difficult adoption cases. Anyone can find adoptive homes for babies and very young children, but it takes experience and commitment to find homes for deeply troubled or handicapped children who have already suffered massive upheavals in their short lives. The Catholic agencies manage to do this. They should not be prevented from doing so in the future by this ridiculus law. Politics should not be allowed to get in the way of finding homes for these children.

PS. I assume in the interests of not allowing exemptions for religious groups, Tony Blair and his colleagues will be announcing in the very near future, the removal of
(1) the halal meat exemption for Jews and Muslims, and
(2) the Sikhs motorbike helmets exemption
.... but obviously, not until after the next election!!!!

  • 41.
  • At 01:07 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Brian Crowe wrote:

Why do homosexuals demand the right to adopt? If they wish to have their own children they should lead a natural heterosexual life style, marry a person of the opposite sex and have their own children in the way nature intended. The homosexual lobby is demanding as a right, the one thing that his/her lifestyle cannot produce - namely a child. This lobby is not thinking of the good of the child, only about it's own self-interest and self-esteem. The Catholic and Anglican churches are absolutely right to oppose this pernicious legislation. Brian Crowe

  • 42.
  • At 01:13 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Donald Worsley wrote:

We must end this unwarranted discrimination against gay couples adopting.

Moreso we must not give in to exemptions on the grounds of religious beliefs,to do so is an open door to all kinds of religious exempions.

Catholic doctors being excused prescribing the contraceptive pill to patients, muslims sending their children to coed schools and jews handing pork on the butchery counter at Tesco etc Oh and protestants being our Head of State.

  • 43.
  • At 01:14 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Edward Murray wrote:

Great article by Nick - as a Catholic who disagrees with the Church's approach to the adoption issue - am becoming increasingly resentful to the abusive nature to these debates. It would appear the securlarists in their 'sooooo democratic way' want to drive anybody with a point based upon a moral principle away from the debate.

Also, if I see or hear the phrase "Ruth Kelly who is a member of the secret Catholic sect Opus Dei etc.," from another half-wit Journalist, I think I'll scream. Its so secret that they have a website and contact phone numbers. See - perish the thought that Nick's poorer educated colleagues would do some research.

  • 44.
  • At 01:14 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Charles E Hardwidge wrote:

If anyone wants to point fingers, I’ve found Daoism, Buddhism, and martial arts useful, as well as Shinto, Christianity, and Islam. Also, I maintain a keen and positive interest in science, politics, and society. Last but not least, I’m adopted. I’m irritated by organisational and individual stupid. As strongly as I object to organisations getting their hooks into young and ill-equipped minds, so I object to individuals who are equally not fit for purpose having undue influence. Anything else is vanity.

As someone who is adopted, in what way should I have been seen as products, goods, and services? Perhaps, hammers and screwdrivers should campaign because they’re discriminated against in the tool shed? It would be laughed out of town. My view is simple. The Catholic church provides a useful service and homosexuals are allowed civil partnerships. This is enough. Brainwashing children in religious institutions is out of fashion and homosexual adoption should be boxed with it.

I strongly believe that religion has a useful role to play, and homosexuals may contribute positively to society, but when either starts gaming the system, or laying their ego driven superstitions and vanities on others, some correction is in order. I’d like to see both camps back off and calm down, and see more critical thinking and less populism from politicians. This trial of strength by competing factions, and weakness from individuals is immature, bad science, and morally evil.

  • 45.
  • At 01:16 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Victoria wrote:

I have believed for some time that the state and church should be seperate, but never more so than at the moment. I an shocked by the sway the Catholic church seems to hold within politics, I think it is wrong to dress discrimination up as 'God's law' and expect everyone to quietly back down.

  • 46.
  • At 01:18 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Chris Curry wrote:

Comments on the issue of adoption by gay and lesbian people.

I work in a local authority adoption team. Those who argue that there is a need to allow church and faith-based adoption agencies to continue to exist to provide support for adoptions already in place miss the point that all local authorities now have a duty to provide post-adoption support to anyone affected by adoption who lives in their area. There is no need for faith based adoption agencies to continue just so that support can be given when needed. We already do that.


  • 47.
  • At 01:18 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

It seems respect and tolerance of other views is a one way street for some people. How can it be possible to legislate whether or not people are allowed to follow a religious belief?

  • 48.
  • At 01:19 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Norman Rothe wrote:

NicK Robinson is right - those so strongly in favour of the proposed legislation are in effect behaving in a manner, towards those holding religious beliefs, which they would not accept if it were directed at them. Meeting one form of discrimination with another is not acceptable. Sadly it seems that their views are being given primacy.
Should anyone wonder, no, I am not a Catholic, but I believe their stance on this issue to be correct.

  • 49.
  • At 01:20 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Hendrik de Jong wrote:

"Allow me to delicately suggest, however, that the attitudes being displayed now towards Catholics in public life must feel to them like a form of prejudice and discrimination."

Sorry Nick, do you all of a sudden feel sorry for these Catholics? Why? Do you feel sorry for racists, fascists, sexists (etc)? I think not. These Catholics want to keep on preaching their hate and are no better than the 3 other groups I mentioned above.

If these Catholics would say: "we want an exemption because we don't want children to be adopted by blacks or Jews, would you accept that Nick? I think not.

A belief is a belief, just that.
You CHOOSE to believe in a god.
You CHOOSE to believe that blacks are less good than Whites.
You CHOOSE to believe women are less than men.
You CHOOSE to believe homosexuals are unnatural.

You CANNOT choose to be black, a woman or a homosexual, it is your GENETIC make-up.

Discrimination because of someones genetic make-up is wrong and should never be allowed. No matter what type of belief they choose.

If the churches want to act like certain groups of terrorists in claiming that their beliefs mean they don't respect the law, shouldn't the churches be banned as proscribed organisations?

  • 51.
  • At 01:20 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • fred watson wrote:

I am of an age that when I was young it was a crime to indulge in homosexual acts. I am glad that society has moved on and allowed people to act according to their conscience regarding thier sexuality
What I don't understand is why we are not allowed to use our consciences to decide the future of
our children. Catholic religions have formed the bedrock of our society and their leaders should be listened to and be allowed to act according to their faith. This is obviously too much to expect from this failing government.

  • 52.
  • At 01:22 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • David wrote:

I would love to see some sensible reporting on the substantive issues here and a decent debate with views aired on both sides. I'd like to see this because it's a really important subject. But what do we get ? Endless reporting of cabinet splits and political in-fighting. Sorry, but the media has lost the plot on this one and is reporting the wrong story.

  • 53.
  • At 01:24 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • luciano wrote:

What has surprised me is that equal adoption rights for gay couples is being presented as a problem only for Catholic adoption agencies.
The Muslim community have been strangely silent on the issue, yet it would be expremely difficult for a Muslim charity to be able to permit equal treatment for homosexuals due to their religious beliefs.
If there is not a conscience clause I cannot see the Muslim community being able to provide adoption services either.

  • 54.
  • At 01:26 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Yvonne Greaves wrote:

As a practising roman catholic I feel like an alien in this country where those who shout loudest and have lots of representation in areas of communication(media etc and can influence the debate) do so at the behest of everyone else.

I feel discrimiated against at this juncture and that my views and beliefs are worthless.

I hope their is case to prove in the European court of human rights!
I and what I believe in have rights too!

  • 55.
  • At 01:26 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • John Isitt wrote:

Off come off it Mr Robinson: "attitudes towards Catholics... must feel... like a form of prejudice". I fear you're losing a bit of perspective on this.

This is the group of people who are actively organising to discriminate against 10% of the population - gay men and lesbians. If this debate was about any other group, such as black and minority ethnic people or women, there would be no discussion. So why the debate on this issue?

Let's be honest about this, the Anglican and Catholic heirarchy are lobbying hard to be allowed to continue their practice of bigotry based on sexual orientation.

  • 56.
  • At 01:27 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Ceri wrote:

I hope that the government does 'face down' the church. Otherwise it seems very much like they're responsive to blackmail & threats.

  • 57.
  • At 01:28 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • John Latham wrote:

I have nothing against Catholics, or any other class of irrational people. They are entitled to hold whatever crazy views they like. I would rather, however, that they didn't hold public office.

  • 58.
  • At 01:29 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Janice Davis wrote:

If the government does not allow any form of opt-out from the anti-discrimination legislation, there will be cases where existing legitimate agencies will themselves become the target of discrimination. This issue of gay adoption is too complicated to have a "one answer fits all" solution, and ministers who favour such a solution are naive. If the prevention of discrimination against gays leads to discrimination against any legitimate religious group, particularly one which has been long established in Britain - indeed has contributed to some extent to what is is to "be British", then the proposed legislation is unacceptable. What is needed is genuine and intelligent tolerance - which needs legislation which can protect both the rights of gays to adopt, and the rights of Catholics (and any other religious persuasion) not to have to deal with gay couples in their adoption agencies. This can be accomplished, but only if the government is willing to show real grown-up tolerance.

  • 59.
  • At 01:29 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Julian Ziegler wrote:

"Allow me to delicately suggest, however, that the attitudes being displayed now towards Catholics in public life must feel to them like a form of prejudice and discrimination."

Oh dear, now you put it like that I feel awful for all the years I must have made the apartheit government feel the subject of prejudice. I am also going to have to rethink my public stance on the Klu Klux Klan as they may feel a bit under pressure

  • 60.
  • At 01:29 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

Presumably, given her sweeping statement about discrimination, according to Harriet Harman, it would be discriminatory to object to placing a child in the care of a registered paedophile if they applied to adopt a child. it is a great shame, but not particularly surprising given the lack of common sense typically on display in the Houses of Parliament, that ministers make such ludicrously crass statements. Why does Harriet Harman want to discriminate against Catholics because of their religious beliefs anyway? I thought HMG stopped doing that after the reformation.

The churches seem to accept that discriminating against people is a bad thing - unless it's because the person is gay because the sin of being gay means that they are not real people!

  • 62.
  • At 01:35 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Matthew Close wrote:

This episode makes it clear that Blair has no power within his own Cabinet. For the good of the country he should resign now and let us move on.

  • 63.
  • At 01:35 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Eve Wilmer wrote:

I cannot believe that the government is even considering whether to allow Catholic adoption agencies this exemption, on the grounds of religious beliefs. Wasn't it only a few weeks ago that what seemed like the whole nation agreed that veils should be banned in certain public positions, despite Islamic religious beliefs.
So then how can Tony Blair justify even considering potentially allowing Catholic adoption agencies to deny gay couples a basic human right (the right to a family) under the guise of 'religious sensitivities', when they have just denied another religious group the same sensitivity?

  • 64.
  • At 01:41 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Paul Rossi wrote:

Ministers are at pains to bolt on to their statements, in support of gay couples adopting, the words "where it is in the interests of the child".

Would one of them care to give us an example of when adoption by a gay couple might be more "in the interests of the child" than adoption by a heterosexual couple ?

  • 65.
  • At 01:43 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • David Carruthers wrote:

I don’t really see any vilification of Catholics per se, but I do see a strong reaction against those claiming to be acting on divine instruction. As usual the PM was attempting some sort of “third way” between opposing principles; I think that particular wide and glorious path has lead to his destruction. His cabinet colleagues may be parading their labour credentials for the DPM post, but at least they have saved us from another Blair fudge surprise. There is simply no point in framing equality legislation and then exempting those who believe a certain group should not be treated equally – what a waste of paper.

I know it is often difficult to balance competing rights, but I think that our evolving secular state is doing a better job than a state based on religious conscience. Some rights are core whilst others, although important, can not be allowed to impede another’s pursuits. A more inclusive community will no doubt be abhorrent to those who believe certain groups should remain marginalised. Removal of injustices past are always difficult, as years of ingrained prejudice and paranoia have to be challenged and overcome.

  • 66.
  • At 01:45 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Karen wrote:

Why is there a need to even consider the possibility of exemption?

We've had this problem with the government trying to derogate from their duties under the Human Rights Act (terrorism) and are reliant on the Courts to ensure the Act is upheld.

These Acts are passed to protect citizens, allowing the exemption of the Catholic Church renders the passing of the Act pointless.

  • 67.
  • At 01:45 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Michael R Curtis wrote:

It is all very well for the Catholic Church to talk about the welfare of "at risk" children, but they need to put their own house in order. We need full transparency on the preists who have put children at risk over the years. We need to be confident that any priest who has abused a child or children is dismissed from the priesthood and put on a child abusers register. Until the Catholic Church does this no-one should take them seriously over this issue.


Personally I abhor all forms of prejudice and discrimination and - though this sounds like a sarcastic twisting of the words of bigots - I have very many friends who I cherish who have very strong religious views.

I would no more want to trample on their views than they'd want to come and 'queer bash' me.

The problem with these issues is partly a lack of accurate reporting by some and a lack of leadership on the parts of certain Bishops and Archbishops.

As I've said on MayorWatch this morning:

"Religions and their followers must always be welcome in any tolerant society but they cannot enjoy any special status which removes them from the need to comply with the laws of the land.

For many genuinely devout members of our society it must be uncomfortable to be confronted with the truth that their religion no longer has a veto on society’s norms and laws.

However sympathetic we are to such believers this is a long overdue lesson and one which could have been made easier with more honest leadership by senior religious figures."

Full article:

The world has changed, laws are less and less being made to fit into a single reading of the bible. We're becoming ever more secular and personally i think that's a long overdue and welcome change.

The sad thing in all this is that Tony Blair placed Ruth Kelly in a position where she would always be questioned over her religious views.

Like many of the problems this Government has faced this is one of their own causing - an Equalities Minister who cannot bring herself to say being gay isn't a sin is fatally compromised - would the PM appoint a current member of CND to serve as Defence Secretary?

Her religion isn't - and shouldn't be - a barrier to her serving in Cabinet but perhaps in hindsight a different post would have been better? It would be a pity if she felt forced out of cabinet over this issue - it seems to me that she's owed an apology from Blair for ever putting her in this position.

  • 69.
  • At 01:47 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Tim Williams wrote:

I agree with Nick’s article.

What would happen if a Catholic Agency made it clear what their views were prior to the new Equality Act after its implementation? Would this be considered breaking the new law?

You would have to wonder why a gay couple would want to deal with such an agency, rather than an agency that openly advertised themselves as pro gay couples adopting.

I assume the issue here is unequal choice through inequality. But the same could be said for Churches who openly preach about heterosexual couples. Are they going to impose a new rule abolishing that next?

Tim Williams

  • 70.
  • At 01:48 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • David Carruthers wrote:

I don’t really see any vilification of Catholics per se, but I do see a strong reaction against those claiming to be acting on divine instruction. As usual the PM was attempting some sort of “third way” between opposing principles; I think that particular wide and glorious path has lead to his destruction. His cabinet colleagues may be parading their labour credentials for the DPM post, but at least they have saved us from another Blair fudge surprise. There is simply no point in framing equality legislation and then exempting those who believe a certain group should not be treated equally – what a waste of paper.

I know it is often difficult to balance competing rights, but I think that our evolving secular state is doing a better job than a state based on religious conscience. Some rights are core whilst others, although important, can not be allowed to impede another’s pursuits. A more inclusive community will no doubt be abhorrent to those who believe certain groups should remain marginalised. Removal of injustices past are always difficult, as years of ingrained prejudice and paranoia have to be challenged and overcome.

Sorry to be off topic,I have another story for you [breaking news]

  • 72.
  • At 01:50 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Martin Howells wrote:

Equality for all? Yes why not? But are not some people more equal than others? Majority over minority. Thats the democratic way is it not.
Are our thoughts and beliefs now to be legislated against, positive discrimination? How sharp is this two edged sword that the politicians have created?
There cannot exist an ideal world. The world is relativistic. The sooner we all learn to live together as harmoniously as possible the better.
How "Orwellian" is the government going to become?

  • 73.
  • At 01:54 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Derek Robinson wrote:

I think the question here really should be viewed from a childs eyes ... 'When I look back at my childhoood, was I glad to have same sex parents and suffer the undoubted consequences'. 'Or would I rather have fitted in better amongst my peer group for whatever reasons'.
I am not homophobic in anyway and I do not like churches of any description, but it seems we must all think it's OK to put the childs needs behind that of adults. Should a child be used as a weapon to fight the gay rights cause?

Thank you for highlighting the fact that many Catholics are feeling vilified, Nick, including myself.

It is a fact that many people in the world aren't 'too keen' on the Catholic Church, but this is nothing compared with the challenges the Church has faced in the past; at least we're not runnung for our lives.

  • 75.
  • At 01:54 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • I like tennis wrote:

Very true, I have to say as a rather conservative Catholic myself, I still do not agree with the idea that a Gay couple shouldn't adopt.

Though I realise many Gay partnerships are not suitable places in which to bring up a child (as with many heterosexual partnerships) I believe that situation to be far preferable to a child being kept in a home.

BUT... The fact that many people feel this morally wong and not in the interests of the child is something this country has to realise. If one sets out to do good with an adoption agency, and is forced to do things against one's morals, by law, one is surely obliged by one's own moral integrity to resign. To force people with these beliefs to break their moral integrity, or to resign is surely discrimination of the worst kind, since the people running the agencies have such an important role in society, based on compassion and caring, and a hope to make other's lives better.

  • 76.
  • At 01:54 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • David Evans wrote:

Well put! It's a lose-lose situation.

  • 77.
  • At 01:56 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Julie Saunders wrote:

I agree with Nick Robinson's closing comments. I believe that the Catholic request for exemption has been hyped up into an anti-Catholic issue. Other religions have problems with this too, but are not getting any media coverage. The real issue is that we have to begin to realise that one person's unrestricted freedom will inevitably impinge on someone else's freedom, if they have different views. The Catholic church is not saying that adoption by same-sex couples should be outlawed, just that the Catholic church should not be forced to place children with same-sex couples. Surely this is reasonable. Same-sex couples can still adopt through other agencies. What about freedom from being forced to do things that are against your religious convictions? Isn't that a freedom that should be defended just as much as the freedom from discrimination? We all need to learn to be more reasonable with each other. The Catholic church should get its opt-out - they are entitled to human rights too. (PS I am not a Catholic)

  • 78.
  • At 01:58 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • bill wrote:

For such a well informed journalist I am dissappointed that you give any house room at all to bigots. This is about finding loving homes for children, nothing else. The sooner vulnerable children are removed from an atmosphere of bigotry and that utterly poisonous concept of 'original sin', the better. Good ridance to the bigots. They shouldn't have been allowed anywhere near children in the first place. Churches can do good work, but this tends to be in spite of their holy books rather than because of them.

  • 79.
  • At 01:59 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Erik Smith wrote:

Nobody suggests that the vilification of the BNP is wrong because of their prejudiced views, so why should the Catholic church get special treatment due to it's prejudiced views.

  • 80.
  • At 02:00 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Graham Brack wrote:

I'm not a Catholic, and I wouldn't claim that my circle of friends is representative of the population as a whole, but I think some of the would-be deputy leaders might be surprised to discover that the general public does not think that their stance is reasonable (and therefore it could be a vote-loser).

People do not believe that discrimination is always wrong, and there is no reason why adoption agencies can't be divided into two types, those who can subscribe to a policy that allows gays to adopt, and those who can't, and if their view is made clear service users can then make their own minds up. It isn't discrimination per se that is the problem, but hidden discrimination and the lack of an alternative. If an agency's policy is clear, and people still have access to a service, why not allow agencies to follow their ethical or religious beliefs?

I know it's a trivial example, but the argument here is similar in type to my saying that restaurants ought not to be allowed to discriminate against me because I eat meat, so even vegetarian restaurants must supply a meat dish, whatever their owners' beliefs. If I don't like their policy, I can go somewhere else.

In my work, I'm allowed to refuse to provide contraception to people on grounds of my personal belief, so long as I route them to an alternative provider near at hand. What's wrong with that as a compromise in this case?

  • 81.
  • At 02:01 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Vincent George wrote:

I have heard that the Catholic Adoption agencies have put children with individual straight and gay adults, and also with non-married stable heterosexual couples. If this is true, their present onjections do indeed amount to discrimination.
If the Catholic Church feels it is now feeling discriminated against, maybe they can feel how many others have felt, and so hopefully change their ways.
The Church has changed its teachings in the past on slavery, women, usuary, human rights, freedom of conscience and religion, having caught up with new sciences or understandings; now it is time to do so with regard to homomsexualtiy.

  • 82.
  • At 02:01 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Arthur Rusdell-Wilson wrote:

The news that Catholic adoption agencies are unlikely to be allowed to choose not to offer their services to homosexual couples fills me with dismay. It has become clear that, for all their talk of multiculturalism, New Labour are unwilling to allow for different cultures and 'diversity' in our society. Moral norms differ between cultures. The government is seeking to impose a 'one size fits all' moral code on the country - denying diversity. This is essentially a totalitarian stance. In Hitler's Germany only the 'German Christians' were acceptable to the state. Brave men like Martin Niemoller and Dietrich Bonhoeffer stood out against this, and suffered for their beliefs. In our multireligious society the equivalent of the 'German Christians' will soon be the 'British Multifaith Believers'. How many of us who are against suicide bombing as a religious activity still find it sickening to listen to Tony Blair lecturing Muslims on what is true and what is a perversion of Islam. What a cheek he has! British values are to be taught in our schools, but it seems that these will not be values inherited from our past but shallow, recently minted 'politically correct' values. I fear we are heading into worrying times when traditional believers of all religions are going to have to fight against militant state secularism.

Vilification never helps, no matter who is dolling it out. Catholics and Gay public figures have in common at least that!

  • 84.
  • At 02:04 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Mike T wrote:

It's interesting to see how far New Labour appears to have drifted from its traditional supporters.

I still remember as a boy, the priest rallying the faithful at election time to vote for the party of the working man. Now? Well, there won't be much of that now, one thinks.

How did Labour get it so wrong as to alienate various supporter groups by creating legislation that would pit them against one another? In another decade, mutterings would have been heard about political "banana skins" and "fitness to rule"....

  • 85.
  • At 02:07 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Tennisfan wrote:

Nick, further to my earlier comments, I'd add that the villifiation by the media of Ruth Kelly, is totally wrong. If we live in a multicultural society which accepts different people's rights to practice their religions, there is no reason why someone should seperate their religious beliefs from their pollitics. After all, she was voted in, and in order to maintain any kind of moral integrity a person must always fight for their beliefs. The press merely target Ruth Kelly because of her Catholicism.

We know if she was a Muslim the same negative press would be immediately criticised by anyone wanting to look good in the public eye. But as a Catholic she is an easy target.

  • 86.
  • At 02:10 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • kathleen russell wrote:

In all this furore over the last week, gay and lesbian groups have been in uproar about their rights. Not once have I seen the rights of the children mentioned, and it is they who are of paramount importance here, not pawns in an argument. Many would say of course that children are a gift from God, but He too,if He is a Christian,
is being sidelined.

  • 87.
  • At 02:11 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

To my mind Catholics are putting their beliefs on homosexuality ahead of the welfare of children.

  • 88.
  • At 02:12 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Matthew wrote:

1)' The Equality Act bans discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services on the basis of sexual orientation '.

Since when does a child constitute a good, a facility or service?
Clearly the Equality Act is not justification for gay adoption.

2) Mr Bradshaw told the BBC's Politics Show ' "I think that this is an issue of equality. It's exactly the same as saying you can't have a child for adoption because you're black or because you're a woman" '

Race or gender is something that we have no control matter the developments in science/technology. Being gay, I believe is a choice. A product of perversion as a result of the environment one grow up in. It is utter folly to equate race/gender with homesexuality. The former cannot be helped. It is devine and unchangeable.

For once I'm inclined to agree with the church. In the words of John Sentamu the "Rights of conscience (faith) cannot be made subject to legislation, however well meaning".

Once again, politicians are found wanting when face with the opportunity to do the right thing.

In all this, Has anyone ever really consider the interest of the child? How many children if given the option would want to be brought up in a gay home? What emotional and psychological scars will such children suffer.

Heterosexual couples have never solved the lack of love/issues within their relationship via having another child or adopting. Homosexuals couples are not going to be any different.

There is only one person that would benefit from these new adoption laws..and unfortunately but not surprisingly it is not the child. As always, the children end up suffering for the mistakes/inadequacies of the adults.

  • 89.
  • At 02:13 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Dave Talkowski wrote:

A secular state is fine, but I don't see what benefit there is by closing down religious organisations that are trying to help a sector of social care.

  • 90.
  • At 02:13 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

It's a shame that Ruth Kelly, the Minister for Equality, has never voted in favour of a single gay equality measure in her 9½ years as an MP.

She failed to support an equal age of consent, civil partnerships, the abolition of Section 28 or adoption rights for same-sex couples.

If she had any track record of voting in favour of equality, her thoughts might be given a little more consideration by thoughtful people. Unfortunately, her position as Minister for Equalities is simply untenable because she clearly does not support equality for all. Her voting record proves it.

It is ludicrous for Nick Robinson to suggest that people with religious views are under attack. On the contrary: they are being required to justify themselves without reference to the expression "because the bible says so". If they are unable to do so, it raises questions about their suitability to legislate for the whole nation. Don't forget that yesterday's Social Attitudes survey reported that 69% of the population has no religious belief whatever, and religions' own figures show that barely 6% of the population attends a place of worship in a typical week.

A little like pregnancy, either one is equal or one is not. Opt-outs on equality legislation mean that one is not. Where taxpayers' money is involved, the churches have to accept that they must treat everybody equally.

  • 91.
  • At 02:19 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Tony D wrote:

The obvious extension to this is to state that the Catholic Church also cannot restrict the priesthood to men only due to the discrimination inherent in that approach. I am happy that stable gay relationships have the opportunity to provide a loving home to adoptees but to force the church to ignore one of its teachings is wrong headed and uber pc hot air for the sake of it.

  • 92.
  • At 02:19 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Jonathan Mobey wrote:

Adoption agencies should be pro-child. Whether they are pro-gay or anti-gay, pro-communist or anti-communist, pro-rock'n'roll or anti-rock'n'roll is in a different league.

To do the best for the child, agencies need to evaluate every prospective adoptive parent or parents. To judge that it is in the best interests of the child to have a male and a female parent rather than just one parent, or two parents of the same sex, is a judgment that the agency makes and must be based on good evidence. The debate should therefore be about what constitutes good evidence and whether any given adoption agency can be trusted to make that judgement.

Catholic adoption agencies over the years would seem to have demonstrated competence in this, and should be allowed to continue to make this judgement, free of politically-correct interference.

  • 93.
  • At 02:20 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

It all depends on what the country holds more dear - these horrid PC laws that require "tolerance" of anything that anyone can think of, or religious and expressive freedoms, including the freedom of speech.

A wise man once said that the freedom of speech is not your freedom to hear what you want, but my freedom to say what you may not want. Anti-discrimination laws like this (especially in relation to speech, but this counts as well) are feel-good laws that are meant to make sure no person gets their feelings hurt.

I gotta say, big deal. Everyone gets hurt, and you can't have the freedom of belief and expression when those beliefs and expressions are doled out by the government.

  • 94.
  • At 02:21 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Re. your last paragraph. They are being discriminated against because they belong to a faith group. But this is the Labour Government's way - using legislation to deal with issues that would be better dealt with through just a little common sense. But it would not do to do any lawyers, solicitors or barristers out of a healthy fee.

The answer is not to formulate and push through poorly drawn up legislation. And Hain, Johnson and Harman need to worry a little less about public persona and more about what they will do for gainful employment after the next election.

  • 95.
  • At 02:24 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Alan Elson wrote:

I am amazed that the discussion on this issue does not seem to be focussed on questions of conscience. This is an not simply a question about sexual orientation but it is also an issue about allowing people to obey their conscience on a moral issue. We have already heard the example of the exemption for conscience' sake in the Abortion Act. Is it beyond our politicians to apply principles similar to those for the conscientious objector in times of war to this problem?

  • 96.
  • At 02:28 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • John Hak wrote:


I think the minorities now rule this country and gays are every bit as prejudiced and discriminatory as any other minority. For the gays of the UK this is retribution time for past real and perceived injustices.
Hate mail because you defended some one's dearly held principles is the methodology of the bigot, gay or religious.

  • 97.
  • At 02:29 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

As a Catholic I do feel prejudice and discrimination from certian members of Government, which proves that it's a myth we live in a liberal/secular society. If that were true then members of any religion would be allowed to hold true to their beliefs - as long as they weren't violent in intent - even if they were at odds with the majority view. The law and the majority view can't be placed above conscience or firmly held religious belief. What we have here is a concerted effort on the part of a powerful and vocal minority to eradicate any form of religion from our society

  • 98.
  • At 02:30 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Margaret McPhail wrote:

How is it possible to find a way to give someone or an organisation permission to discriminate? That`s just a nonsense! If Tony Blair attempts to do this he will lose a lot of core labour supporters.

I commend Nick for his closing coments. In the UK people speak much of tollerence but in reality that means tollerating certain points of view and being very intollerant of others. There are still tens of millions of people in the UK who believe that homosexual practice is not naturel. If sexual preference is a question of nature instead of nurture then why would society critisise a pedophile?

  • 100.
  • At 02:33 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Barry Lowry wrote:

This is not a gay vs. Church issue; it is more a Church vs. State issue. Should the Church be above the law? Is it right to allow it the privilege to discriminate in a country where the vast majority of people are non-believers, and the whole ethos of the society is one of anti-discrimination at all levels? Religions that have discrimination as part of their "faith" will always be at odds with someone. In this case, they have the right to withdraw their services, but should they do so, they should also withdraw their hand from the pot of money the treasury hands out in the form of charitable status and other tax breaks. Individuals or institutions cannot opt out of laws they do not like, that way leads anarchy.

  • 101.
  • At 02:34 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • rowan martin wrote:

Although there are always some unfortunate comments in these types of debates, please lets not try to equate homophobic discrimnation with angry words now being levelled at the Catholic Church. Has anyone said that Catholics shouldn't adopt? That might approach some sort of 'equivalent' discrimnation, if it were not also the case that the Catholic Church has been an organised and powerful advocate of heterosexual sex for hundreds of years. The idea that Catholics are suffering discrimnation here is rather pathetic - they are not obliged to run adoption agencies. The Church is out of touch and irrelevant; let's leave them to their own prejudices.

  • 102.
  • At 02:34 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Andrew Jonstone wrote:

The Churches claim to be seeking exemption from anti-discrimination laws on grounds of "Christian Conscience". However, despite their instruction to go and sell all they have and give it to the poor, they seem to be able to ignore this obligation. Although given Biblical permission to enslave the women and daughters of their enemies they do not seem to wish to have exemption from anti-slavery laws.
Many, many people are unsuccessful each year in seeking to adopt - the law places no demand upon anyone to accept each and every applicant. Do the Churches wish to claim that they are unable to refuse any placement on the grounds that it is not suitable for a particular child? If their stand was against applicants to adopt on grounds of their race or religion then the underlying nasty prejudices would be clearly revealed. An applicant is one who applies and not one who must therefore be accepted.

Over to you Mr Blair!

This situation has been covered in a veil of “gay acts are wrong because the bible says” or “it’s a question of morality/Catholic, Christian conscience” and so it has followed that gay couples adopting is unacceptable.

However, I believe the issue more subjective than that – simply, many people find gay sexual behaviour disgusting and will discriminate because of this fact.

I think the Catholic/Christian churches have now shot themselves in the foot over this issue.

If they get exemption I believe they will be perceived as an organisation that actively condones discrimination of this type.

If they don't get exemption and actually close many of their adoption agencies, because they must follow a moral conscience, and rightly so, they will be letting down those who are most in need.

  • 104.
  • At 02:35 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Deborah wrote:


I thought your blog on the topic of politian's responses to the church's response to the anti-discrimination laws was very sensitively written actually; and I have been surprised at the villification of the church in recent weeks (particularly by other posters on other sites - when calling for banning of all religion I can't see how this any different to any other form of discrimination?). I wonder if we would see the same reaction if it were another religion expressing unhappiness about the new law (i.e. Islam??) Also, I think what you have pointed out about how ministers are perceived and how that drives their behaviours makes an interesting statement about how politics works in the early 21st Century....

  • 105.
  • At 02:35 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Ceri wrote:

What tosh! The reason vilification is being meted out to those who support the catholic church in this matter is that the catholic church is acting in a blatantly discriminatory manner. They would not be allowed to discriminate on the grounds of race. If it is right that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is wrong, then - on this point - the catholic church is wrong. Noone goes round saying 'racial discrimination is wrong but you must exempt the KKK because they have deeply-held moral convictions that non-whites are inferior' do they?

  • 106.
  • At 02:35 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Martin Green wrote:

The belief that homosexual acts are wrong, whether that belief itself is right or wrong, does not necessarily constitute prejudice against homosexuals. Someone who says stealing is wrong is not prejudiced against thieves.
Agencies such as the Catholic Church should be free to decline to offer a service to homosexual couples if it conflicts with their beliefs. If a homosexual couple wants to adopt they should go through an agency that has no conscientious objection to placing children with them.

  • 107.
  • At 02:39 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Sue Theo wrote:

How right Nick Robinson is to say that, to Catholics, this feels like prejudice and discrimination. I am a Catholic; I am moderate; I support policies that are fair and just, but likewise I believe that we should be free to live as our faith directs. The Catholic agencies harm no-one and help many; people that disagree with their ethos can go elsewhere - there is plenty of choice.

  • 108.
  • At 02:43 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Kevin Hyland wrote:

Thank you for your comments, Nick.

Ruth Kelly has long been a figure of hate in the cabinet because of her Catholic faith.

The proposed new "Equality Act" is sadly the "Unequality Act" as far as Catholics are concerned.

Despite supposedly having the right to "freedom of religious expression" enshrined in human rights legislation, the government is proposing a law that will curtail precisely that for the Catholic Church.

As a Roman Catholic myself, I feel increasingly marginalised in my own country. It semms that hardly a week or two goes by now, without a new piece of legislation being proposed that, if implemented would have hugely damaging consequences for the church.

I hope that Ms Kelly is able to stick things out in what must be a horrible atmosphere in which to have to work. I would have thought that if she does feel it necessary to resign, there could well be a case to be made for constructive dismissal against the government.

Ultimately, because of petty, internal party politics, children are going to suffer.

I hope Mr Johnson and his fellow deputy leader wannabees are proud of that...

  • 109.
  • At 02:45 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Mr S. GROOM wrote:

This law would be morally wrong and perverse on the grounds that it is unnatural for a couple of the same sex to have a child. What has happened to common sense; a child should be brought up in a balanced heterosexual environment.

  • 110.
  • At 02:46 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Breandan Goodall wrote:

Decrying all Catholics based on the opinions of a few is being prejudiced. However, decrying someone for opposing gay adoption based on religious/irrational grounds is not being prejudiced. Irrational behaviour isn't tolerated in children and is something that adults arguing over who should raise children would do well to remember.

  • 111.
  • At 02:47 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Patrick Stevens wrote:

One of the problems is that there is a widespread distrust of the Roman Catholic Church. This stems from knowledge of how they have covered up the activities of paedophile priests and the perceived hypocrisy of Ruth Kelly.

The hysterical reaction of Opus Dei to the drama "Waking the dead" shows an irrationality and intolerance in the Church that makes many very concerned about all calls for them to be exempted from laws which affect everyone else.

  • 112.
  • At 02:51 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • carlos wrote:

it is sad to see the catholic church been blackmailed in the name of the children. i want to remind everyone that the catholic agencies are belong to the catholic church, therefor they can close them or leave them open. it is up to them, not up to the public. the vast majority of children displaced are the results of non-christian couples, the secular, you see. society is more than encouraged to take responsabilities for its mess. by the way , the parties from the left and promoters of secularism are happy to hate the religious and in particular the christians, but they don't have the courage to stand up and say that they don't want the christian vote either. they are more than happy to take the vote from everyone. they are such hypocrites that they hate the christians but are more than happy to accept the vote from us.

  • 113.
  • At 02:56 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • JPB wrote:

I appreciate your point. However, I think it is important that the UK holds the line here, and doesn't start granting religious exemptions to human rights legislation. In the US, we have a crazy situation where, at least in some states, Catholic hospitals are exempt from anti-discrimination legislation in hiring and pharmacists may refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control pills on religious grounds, while both mainstream and fringe religious groups may claim exemptions from everything from taxation to planning restrictions.

  • 114.
  • At 02:58 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Rev Dr Stephen Cunningham-Collins wrote:

Being a Gay minister of religion; in a Civil Partnership with another minister of religion, and having spent some years working with families, communities and social concerns, in all shapes and sizes, it is so sad that the "church" cannot embrase equality and show respect and credence to the work and wonderful testament of gay couples and singles,who have opened there lives to children, who for whatever reason would never be placed in a safe, loving and caring enviroment.

Even more so, the Roman Catholic Church remains seriously flawed by its own admonishing of its own clergy who have, do and will abuse children.

Gay persons are not threats to the needs of children, the diversity that can be brought into the life of a child is beyond measure and surely makes for a better, holistic and engaging citizen of the future. Surely this is worth embrassing?

  • 115.
  • At 02:59 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Sean wrote:

Lo! Lo! How tyrannous their master Equality was!

After each objection did an accusation follow.

  • 116.
  • At 03:00 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

How much longer must we put up with the stone age superstitions of those involved with organised religion. Their total reliance on millenia old principles as to how we should behave and conform in this day and age has now gone past the stage where they can be treated as harmless fools to the point where they start to become dangerous

  • 117.
  • At 03:02 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Sean Lang wrote:

I agree very much with the sentiment in the last paragraph. I have never had any trouble with people attacking, affronting or mocking my Catholic beliefs - that's called living in a free society - but in the last couple of years I have felt an increasing climate of hostility and prejudice against the actual expression of religious faith, and especially Catholicism. It is shown in everything from an apologetic approach towards nativity plays, a Church which was told to take down a cross from its grounds (because it constituted advertising), people being told on spurious grounds of health and safety that they may not wear crosses round their necks, right up to the vituperatively anti-Christian pieces which regularly come out from Guardian columnists like Polly Toynbee, Madeleine Bunting and Roy Hattersley. I think the church leaders have a strong case here along the lines the Times outlined in its leader today - the placing of children should put their rights above every other consideration and children who have already suffered bereavement or loss of some kind have a right to expect to be placed in a family which can offer the balance that comes from a loving mother and father. But underneath it - and here I think the churches are right too - is a much nastier agenda which seeks to portray religion as a problem and Catholics as its worst examples.

I of course respect the right of people to believe in whatever they want to believe but there has to be a line.

The law means nothing if we allow special interest groups exemptions left right and centre.

The law is the law and if your religion says homosexuals are an affront to God (remind me where it says that again? In the same part of the Bible where it says it's okay to give you daughter to an angry mob of rapists?) then that's your own business but don't expect the law to support your prejudice.

There are people in our society who do not want to be a bound by the nonsense written in a bronze-age of dubious authenticity have the right to ignore you completely.

Religion is merely the opinion that has survived and all opinions can be changed.

Indeed, the Church opposed the end of slavery, women's suffrage, interracial marriage and pretty much ever socially progressive move society has ever made. You’d think by now they’d like to be on the right side of history. Obviously not!


  • 119.
  • At 03:11 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Stephen Plowman wrote:

"Ruth Kelly is accused of putting her religion before her principles."


Firstly, I think most people who are religious would say their religion defines their principles. Being a one-day-a-week believer is not to be a believer at all.

Secondly, you are right to point out the double standards being applied here. Because one group has suffered abuse in the past does not give them the right to abuse others.

  • 120.
  • At 03:13 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Christopher Lungu wrote:

I am in agreement with both the Catholic and Anglican Archbishops, why should the right of conscience and nature be compromised? Why should a minor who is vulnerable, lost and not able to speak for themselves be subjected to adoption to gay parents?

Much as it is good to adopting a child, we should stop being selfish in only looking at our rights. They too have a right which we should respected and this is to be brought up in a family where a father is male and mother female, after all this is what they learn in school that natures stipulates that if a male has sexual intercourse with female both their cells merge - that is the beginning of life and when a child is born it will call the male parent father and female mother.

If gay couples wishes to adopt a child, in my opinion, they should wait until such a time when this innocent child can make its own decisions - whether to be brought up in a gay family or not.

The danger is that when this vulnerable child grows up in a gay family it will think that is the normal way of life and when he grows up he/ she will too get married to a person of the same sex. Are we helping this child? Are we helping nature? We will end up living in a society without reproduction.

This is my humble opinion.

  • 121.
  • At 03:21 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Peter Hainey wrote:

I completely agree with you Nick. I am not a Catholic, but I believe that the way they are being treated is equal to discrimination in itself. I am keen to point out that the Catholic church is not saying that gay couples should not adopt, rather they are asking for an exemption for themselves on grounds of religous belief and their personal conscious. I believe that this government has little sympathy for people of religious belief, and they would rather than everyone conform to the same political correct views and attitutes.

  • 122.
  • At 03:23 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Peter Kenyon wrote:

...and in Scotland...?

  • 123.
  • At 03:25 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

The position of the Catholic church is bigotry; nothing more, nothing less. To try to excuse it as a matter of conscience is ridiculous. Would anyone be allowed to discriminate against blacks or jews simply because their conscience dictated it?

  • 124.
  • At 03:26 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Ivonne wrote:

It seems to me that we are all equal, albeit some more equal than others.

In a day and age where discrimination is not allowed, where religion is a matter of choice, the Catholic Church is told "shut up". By the way, so has the Church of England. And I repeat, the Church of England - the national church. Both by the way, Christians.

I have no problem with people of the same sex chosing to live together, they can chose to "marry" (I believe it should be a union, not marriage) if they wish. But please do not flaunt it in my face because I do not like it.

Therefore, I have my own religious belief and somehow I am asked to give this away for political gain (of others) or for extreme political correctness.

I am sorry - Christians have the same rights and obligations as gay people.

solution: why should Christians be asked to forfeit their beliefs? If the gay couples wish adoption so desperately, why should the go to Catholic or Church of England agencies?

  • 125.
  • At 03:27 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Elizabeth wrote:

The gay adoption rights 'furore' is a typical example of how people want everything their way without regard to how other people feel. The Catholic Church is expected to overturn its teachings of centuries and kow tow to the bullies in the House of Commons, whose only reason for being so vociferous over this is for votes, not because they have any interest in the welfare of gay people.

The Catholic Church has every right to protect its principles and teachings. Otherwise, what is the point for its members? I am a member of the Catholic church and this blatant trampling and disrespect of what the church stands for makes me very sad. If gay people really want to so much be a part of the Catholic church then they should, like me, accept its laws. If not, no-one is forcing them to remain members. They are free to leave anytime they like. You cannot customise a religion for your own benefit. Of course, the same should apply to all members, not just homosexuals. The church can welcome anyone into its fold, but respect fot the church and the welcome must be given in return.

Perhaps if Catholics were as vociferous as Muslims in protecting their religion, we might get somewhere. Dignity and reserve do not seem to be working. This is as much because of our bullying leaders as anything else.

This crumbling government facing down the Catholic Church?! No contest the Cathlolic and Church of England will win, Blair is no Cromwell, he is already on his way out. Who would ever vote Labour again a party which openly makes war on a Christian Church, wires crossed somewhere or high egos about to be felled. This government could not even eradicate fox hunting!

Joyce Kelly

  • 127.
  • At 03:30 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Martin St wrote:

It just goes to show how far this so called "christian country of Britain" has come from its original, bible based foundation. It is one thing adsorbing other cultures and religions, even to the extend that they have more rights and freedoms than the original Anglo-Saxon culture and religion, but to have to also accept other philosophies which go against all the major religions abiding in Britain today, under the pretext of Human Rights, or Equality surely can't be just.

I wonder how long it would take for the normal (silent majority) joe-on-the-street to wake up to the erosion of the base of our western society, or for that matter how much longer this society will last.

Your suggestion is quite correct, Nick. But remember that - contrary to what some may wish to believe - it is Catholicism, and not homosexuality, which is the "lifestyle choice". Judging, or even pre-judging a person on their personal choices, must be fair game; otherwise we cannot "discriminate" against members of Al Qaeda, The BNP, or the KKK.

  • 129.
  • At 03:34 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Rockingham wrote:

People who are Catholic choose to be Catholic; homosexuals do not choose to be gay, they are born gay.

Equating the public reaction to this piece of Catholic hypocrisy (and indeed Anglican hypocrisy - let's not forget that those paragons of tolerence, the archbishops of Canterbury and York, have spoken in support of the Catholic church in this matter) with the ages old campaign of hatred against homosexuals is absurd.

  • 130.
  • At 03:36 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • John Galpin wrote:

Sorry Nick but this isn't just an anti Catholic issue ( although some of the comments clearly are), the CofE has clearly supported them. It is though just another specific example within the wider debate as to whether various religious groups should be able claim special privileges under the law which are denied to others in society. In fact why should it only be currently recognised religious groups, why not others with strongly held views on any other particular subject that in their mind qualifies as a faith or lifestyle belief/choice. Why should those of us who are not religious be subject to all the laws be expected to stand by and see various religious factions claim that their beliefs should allow them to twist the law as it suits?

Inevitably the answer has to be no, there can be no special exemptions, because every special exemtion for one view is inter alia discrimination against alternate views.

This isn't a specifically anti catholic or indeed anti religious view, its about equality of all under the law in a democracy.

Certainly argue whether it is good law, bad law, unneccesary or unworkable law but exemtions on religious or other belief grounds has to be a path that should not be trod in establishing any law.

  • 131.
  • At 03:37 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

I am torn on this as liberal Catholic I dislike this type of prejudice against Gay adoptees, a good role model is a good role model/parent to vunerable children.

But I dislike the secularists ramming down their own agenda down the throats of the religious and I also dislike this vestige of anti-catholic feeling redolent in the Uk establishment as if it were something foreign and sinister.

While the attitudes displayed towards Catholics in public life may feel to them like a form of prejudice or discrimination, I've not seen any news of beatings, murders or bomb attacks in churches.

If these Catholics feel discriminated against as a result of their own discrimination then it is entirely their own fault and their own problem; gay people have suffered far, far worse for far, far longer.

I often feel that anyone, particularly members of faiths who seek to discriminate against gay people or other minority groups should spend some time in the shoes of those against whom they aim their prejudice and I'm pleased that this, however low-grade, is giving them the slightest taste of their own venom.

  • 133.
  • At 03:47 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Jon Bovio wrote:

This attack on the Catholic Church, that is what it is, is digraceful behaviour from the Government,mp's and many others. Who is anyone to question the deep held belefs of the Cathilc Church and its billions of worshippers worldwide????
They are entitled to their deeply held concious beflefs and it is nothing short of shameful that simple solution such as an exemtion for them cannot be sorted. They seem to be a soft target yet I do not think the Government would have the guts to to have refused exemption were it the Muslim faith involved. Only in Britain!! Yet again we are the laughing stock of Europe where many Catholic countries with stron faith and Catholic beliefs continue to enjoy the benefits of mannered family based society.

  • 134.
  • At 03:51 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • A McKay wrote:

Nick I couldn't agree with your comments more, but politics and religion has always been an explosive mix.

For a country which, in the 2001 census, declared that 71.6% of its citizens were Christian and only 15.5% explicitly declared themselves as no religion, I find the level of an absence of tolerance for varying shades of Christian religious views demonstrated by this debate somewhat surprising.

If we can't even go about a reasoned debate about a serious issue of conscience and religious freedom without descending to the level of vilifying a certain denomination of what is the majority religion in this country, what hope can we have of engaging with members of other religions who are also citizens of this state?

Is it any wonder that we keep hearing that Muslims feel isolated and under attack for their religious beliefs in our society?

For the record I'm a liberal Anglo-catholic who has a strongly held view that everyone should be entitled to practice their own beliefs subject to toleration and an sensible approach as to the rights of others. That includes atheists, agnostics and Jedi.

  • 135.
  • At 03:58 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • N wrote:

Adoption of children should be adequately looked after by the Government - they have a responsibility on our behalf to ensure that children who need adoption are appropriately looked after. Therefore, the State can determine the rules that govern the process.

If however, the Government choose to abdicate that responsibility to other agencies, they cannot wholly dictate how that agency should behave in the decision making process.

If it's a Government responsibility, let them make the rules and take full responsibility for it; if it's not a Government matter, let the Government stay out of it. In my view, adoption is a matter for the government, not voluntary agencies.

This appears to be a case of an irresistible force meeting head on with an immovable object. The laws were in place for 2,000 years before Jesus was born and he did nothing to change the rules that had been recorded in the Torah.
As he spent a lot of his time with tax collectors and other outcasts if he were to live in today's world he would probably have spent some time with gay people too and treated them with understanding and compassion as we Catholics are instructed ourselves.
It would seem to me that the only way that Catholic adoption agencies can survive is to offer children ONLY to people married in a Catholic church. Surely they would be allowed to do this under the law? As gay people will not be able to receive a Catholic wedding, this option will not be made available to them.

There is an institutionalised anti-Catholic feeling in large sectors of the British community which, as I have grown older and moved away from my native Liverpool, have noticed more and more. I feel that the hatred and contempt for our beliefs shown to us by certain government ministers is only the tip of the iceberg and they are trying to force us to sacrifice more and more of our rights as believers.

What is to come next? Are all Bibles to be edited so that anything that does not fit in with the modern "right-on" world is to be omitted? That happened once with the so-called "Apocrypha" after the Reformation and leaves a much-reduced book. Is the reference in Deuteronomy stating that man shall not lie with man or he shall be put to death to be removed from the Holy Book according to government dictate? What about the rules concerning stoning of adulterous women?
Times and attitudes have changed for sure and God is loving and forgiving but we have the laws as given.
We are living in a world of single parents and abortion both of which are considered sinful to Catholics but we have to tolerate it in this society. We have many people in our church but there is only one model for a family. A mother, a father and children.

  • 137.
  • At 03:59 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

I live in a Boston suburb in the America and I find the similarities between the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and the adoption issue in England uncanny.

The Boston Archdiocese had to close down its adoption agency last year because of the same pressures exerted on it from the state of Massachusetts. Even though the Catholic Church was preeminant in its adoption program, the need to conform to the state's toleration policy was deemed more important. Cardinal O'Malley made the only intellectually honest and forthright decision he could make: close this social service down.

The state of Massachusetts felt that giving an exception to a great institution that provided a great social good was less important than the welfare and future of our state's children.

Unfortunately, I feel that this type of strong-arming in the guise of "tolerance" will only continue. Applying the same tolerance / equality model one can envision Catholic hospitals closing because they refuse to perform abortions, and Catholic schools closing because they refuse to teach "tolerance" to their children.

It is ironic that the very same people who champion the cause of tolerance have no tolerance when it comes to people who have differing beliefs and morals. This is a form of Marxist socialism in the guise of true democracy.

I, in no way want to see people who live a gay lifestyle be oppressed or denied basic human rights. I've been a victim of bigotry and hate myself and know how it feels all too well. We, as a society, need to work together to ensure that we put in place structures that will ensure our future, but also put into place mechanisms to allow for individuality and freedom of choice.

  • 138.
  • At 04:02 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • T.Milrose wrote:

While I'd agree with your final sentence, I'd also agree with the idea that the Catholic church is attempting to force the government's hand on the issue - blackmail or not, it doesn't strike me as a fair or decent (or Christian, for that matter) thing to do. And like it or not, those in public life that are Catholic, and have spoken out, are lumped in with an institution apparently doing its very best to foster the view that it's above the law of the land.

  • 139.
  • At 04:03 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Mark Riley wrote:

There is no need to vilify the Catholic Church. Besides, most gay people I know aren't very good at vilification, they just want to be left alone. The Catholic Church is doing a good job on its own, looking ridiculously obsessed with homosexuality and damaging its own PR. If they don't reconcile their out of date bigotry with this century's values then they have no role to play in shaping any future laws or legislation.

I would have to say that the attitude being shown by the Catholics - who are complaining about this - is surely a less than Christian one?

  • 141.
  • At 04:13 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Scott Mclachlan wrote:

Once again the main issue is forgotten in this row. In any adoption process it now seems that the rights of the Adults involved are considered far greater than the Adopted child. Just as it may not be right for a particular Catholic couple to adopt a certain child, neither might it be right to allwo a child to be adopted by a same sex partnership. No-one has the right to "own" a child.

  • 142.
  • At 04:24 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Ian Powell wrote:

I believe this discussion is about something even more fundamental than the rights of the Gay community as against the rights of those who hold religious convictions.

It is actually about whether in the 21ST centaury it is acceptable for there to be condemnation of a state of being from within a religion.

It would not be acceptable for the Gay community to label those with religious convictions..."unnatural" because of their beliefs, so how can those within religion’s describe homosexuality and its physical side as "Unnatural"

As a Gay man I can say that being gay is something you are born to...not something you become....something that cannot be said about religion. This all comes down to the body/spirit schism that has existed within religions for thousands of years....but it often a philosophical construct and not really a fundamental part of the religion. I believe if the events described in the bible (for instance) were recent and not events that happened 2000 years ago, and if the apostles were writing now, they would be very unlikely to be anti-gay

  • 143.
  • At 04:29 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Big Al wrote:

Regardless of the subject matter at hand, at least we are now seeing Cabinet government at work. Discussions, arguments, some ministers standing on a point of principle, others abandoning them, some jockeying for position for the Deputy PM election. It's just a great pity that this bunch of trundling parpers didn't show the same independence and resolve when Blair was trampling over them - that's when he wasn't simply by-passing them all together - at the height of his power during the terrible years of the Blair Desolation. I wonder if the Cabinet will be as bold when we enter the era of the Brown Terror?

  • 144.
  • At 04:30 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

The Catholic church has been vilified and Catholics ridculed for centuries in this country. There are in fact still anti-Catholic celebrations in places like Lewes. The heir to the throne is prohibited by act of law from marrying a Catholic and Catholics face constant ridicule - from the TV in particular (e.g recent episodes of Waking The Dead). All of this means nothing really, so far as I am aware Catholics do not ask to be protected - free speech entitles us to say what we think even if it means that people with religious faith may be offended. That does not appear to be a problem. What is a problem, I believe a serious problem, is when the government of the day coerces a peaceful minority into acting against its adopted moral code. If Catholic adoption agencies choose not to place children with gay parents then undoubtedly other agencies will. The Catholic church may disapprove of homosexuality but I am not aware of any attempts by the church to force others in Britain to adopt the Catholic moral code. Why this rabid hatred of Catholics? Why the Maoist desire force Catholics to do something that is against their beliefs? I would imagine other faiths feel the same way as the Catholic church. It is the Socialist creed to command and to bully others, berating us when we do not share the same intrusive, interventionist gospel as they. And a highly pernicious creed it is too - and just as nauseatingly sanctimonious as any papal bull.

  • 145.
  • At 04:37 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Rich De Francesco wrote:

I live in a Boston suburb in the America and I find the similarities between the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and the adoption issue in England uncanny.

The Boston Archdiocese had to close down its adoption agency last year because of the same pressures exerted on it from the state of Massachusetts. Even though the Catholic Church was preeminant in its adoption program, the need to conform to the state's toleration policy was deemed more important. Cardinal O'Malley made the only intellectually honest and forthright decision he could make: close this social service down.

The state of Massachusetts felt that giving an exception to a great institution that provided a great social good was less important than the welfare and future of our state's children.

Unfortunately, I feel that this type of strong-arming in the guise of "tolerance" will only continue. Applying the same tolerance / equality model one can envision Catholic hospitals closing because they refuse to perform abortions, and Catholic schools closing because they refuse to teach "tolerance" to their children.

It is ironic that the very same people who champion the cause of tolerance have no tolerance when it comes to people who have differing beliefs and morals. This is a form of Marxist socialism in the guise of true democracy.

I, in no way want to see people who live a gay lifestyle be oppressed or denied basic human rights. I've been a victim of bigotry and hate myself and know how it feels all too well. We, as a society, need to work together to ensure that we put in place structures that will ensure our future, but also put into place mechanisms to allow for individuality and freedom of choice.

  • 146.
  • At 04:38 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Luca wrote:

Shouldn't then the Catholic Church, as a religious group, explicitly renounce protection under this Act, if they are so keen to prevent other groups from fully benefiting from it? I think coherence calls for it!

From the debate earlier this week, it is clear that it's not the interest of the child at the heart of the Church's concerns, but Vatican's teachings on family. They are prepared to process applications of single gay parents. Two loving gay parents rather than one can be worse only in their misconstrued arithmetic. They are rather concerned with their doctrine on marriage, and must feel the pressure from Rome. One has just to follow the debate in Italy these days, the endless papal interventions on the theme to appreciate the extent to which the poverty of their arguments is compensated by an obsessive repetition of their position.

This seems to me the crucial question: are catholic agencies and catholic parents who subscribe to these homophobic views really fit to care for children?

Have we learned so little from history that we are still willing to discriminate against the Catholic Church in 2007, just as we did all those century's ago. The morals of the country are going to same way as our civil liberties, downhill fast.

  • 148.
  • At 04:47 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Keith Walker wrote:

But surely Catholic public figures are being villified as they belong to an organisation, the Church, that wants to discriminate against a section of the community!

By the same logic the BNP shouldn't be villified either!

What concerns me is that religion is still a major influence in this country, given how secular we have become. Francis Wheen's How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World is a must read.

  • 149.
  • At 04:50 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Derrick Byford wrote:

Nick, with regard to your final comment. It is interesting that a very robust debate on this issue can be viewed as prejudice and discrimination against the Roman Catholic Church. While I certainly agree that this debate should be conducted rationally and reasonably, I feel that the RCC is not a particularly weak organisation or group of individuals in need of protection or delicate treatment. Particularly in light of its history. Can I point you and your readers to a very remarkable exchange of views relevant to this topic being conducted at via email between two very articulate and thoughtful commentators - Andrew Sullivan and Sam Harris:

  • 150.
  • At 04:50 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Sumocat wrote:

Nick suggests that "the attitudes being displayed now towards Catholics in public life must feel to them like a form of prejudice and discrimination". Does this mean that we may not criticise the "strongly held religious views" of fundamentalist Catholics and other theists? If their beliefs have any substance whatsoever, then they should be able to shrug off such criticism. Also, I dare to suggest that the reason so many Catholics may now be feeling prejudiced and discriminated against is that previously, they have been the discriminator and not the discriminatee. Now that the boot is on the other foot, they may be discovering that prejudice and discrimination of any sort is pretty unpleasant. A valuable lesson, some might suggest.

  • 151.
  • At 04:52 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Denis Collins wrote:

This issue is about what is accepted as valid marriage, not a witch hunt against lesbians or homosexuals. The church has every right to state a position snd others to criticise that position, but not use this debate as an excuse for hatred or abuse of the Catholic Church disguised as rational secular argument.

  • 152.
  • At 04:54 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • john a wrote:

It is not only Catholics who are against Gay adoption. Taking Gay "rights" further, how long before male homosexuals start demanding that the NHS fund womb transplants to give equality with heterosexual couples who can resort to IVF.

  • 153.
  • At 04:55 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • the online pixie wrote:

What no comment about Blair missing the Iraq debate?

And what about The Smith Institute Scandal-when are we going to hear about that?

The adoption laws, just like the recent 'Brown talks about Big Brother' aren't the issues you should be talking about. This is a government behaving TERRIBLY- why aren't you talking about this? Just because Blair's said he's going doesn't mean he can get away with not bloody well turning up to the Commons!

  • 154.
  • At 05:19 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • MWS wrote:

We have had this debate in the United States. Catholic Charities, a well respected agency and rightly so,has run up against several state laws prohibiting discrimination. In Massachusetts the agency chose to withdraw from adoptions after the state mandated no dicrimination against gays and in my home state of California they were ordered to offer contraception as part of their employee health plan. This is somewhat hypocritical since Catholic funded hospitals may refuse to perform tubal ligations even if they're the only game in town. This causes hardship when mothers who are denied the procedure after giving birth must go elsewhere to have it done.I believe in a separation between church and state and believe that anyone offering services in the public arena should abide by the laws of the society at large and not force their religious beliefs, whatsoever those may be, on others.

  • 155.
  • At 05:20 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

To me it seems quite simple.

Christians are of course entitled to their religious beliefs. If their religious beliefs say that gay people should not adopt children, then that person has the right to not adopt a child if they are gay.

However, the right to have a religious belief is not a right to then impose it on others. My rights should not be restricted by what you choose to believe, and vice versa. I can't help what you choose to believe.

  • 156.
  • At 05:26 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

Kevin Hyland states below that because of this legislation children will suffer. Others say this too. However they do not go on to say how they will suffer or provide any documentary evidence at all that such couples do make make good parents.They seem to be using children to justify their own prejudices.

  • 157.
  • At 05:29 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Alison wrote:

Christianity has split into two camps. New Testament Christians who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ - love your neighbour, etc. and Old Testament Christians who follow a vengeful and vindictive God - a God who is happy to kill the first born and deploy weapons of mass destruction.

It's the second camp who hate everyone who is different - supporting the divine right of Kings, slavery, segregation, subjugation of women, homophobia. You name it, they are into it. They only gain "Street Cred" by virtue of their association with the followers of Jesus Christ. This second lot should be banned from all special treatment.

  • 158.
  • At 05:37 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

For God's sake, please would this lamentable, so called "government" stop legislating on matters which should be left to individual conscience. In New Labour's Orwellian state, the thought police will stop you holding any view which does not conform to their own nostrums. Nu Labour - just back off and stop intefering so much in our lives.

  • 159.
  • At 05:40 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • John wrote:

This is not a Catholic issue but a religious issue. Anglicans, Muslims, Jews and many other religious believers have spoken out about the proposed legislation. Since when did equality for one group make it acceptable to discriminate against another (religious believers)? Given the right to practice religion embedded in the European Convention of Human Rights doubtless a court case will follow if the Government rams this through....and doubtless the hardliners of Outrage will be fast enough to approach a Catholic adoption agency to hasten the first break of conscience/potential court case (delete as appropriate).

  • 160.
  • At 05:44 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • alan bush wrote:

Simon Johnson comment 2 says

"The law means nothing if we allow special interest groups exemptions left, right and centre"

First the law has been promoted by the most vociferous minority special interest group of all time the so called gay lobby whose representation in the body politic of all political colours far outweighs its actual representation in society. OK so who's problem is that.

Second the government which introduced and passed the relevant legislation is a minority goverment in the terms of the franchised electorate whose vote (or at least the votes of those that bother to get off their seats) clearly is not reflected the the colour of the government in this country. OK so who's problem is that?

Third the special interest group the so called gay lobby has infiltrated and taken undue influence in the leadership of all political parties at the local and national levels. OK so who's problem is that?

Finally to call a church a special interest body when its influence on the body politic is clearly zilch is farcical. OK so who's problem is that.

I will tell you who's problem it is; it's the problem of all those of us who sit back say and do nothing within the body politic and most of all fail to vote: thus permitting us to be led by a Goverment that promotes homosexuals: promotes single families: destroys pensions; ruins the health service; can't police society or apply the law of the land, so that people can feel safe in their own homes; and takes us to war in Iraq for an ego trip!!!!!!

OK now those are real problems and now to add to them we are going to dish out vulnerable kids conveniently defined as "goods or services" to homosexuals, for pity's sake why????? If a homosexual wants to be a parent there is a very easy and simple way of becoming one!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I fully approve of the Catholic church wanting to ban heterosexuals from adopting.

It is public knowledge that gay men and lesbians have overcome extreme adversity, and are able to provide stable and loving homes void of the standard squabbling sex wars that dominate two sex households. We must also thank the Catholic church for realising that gay men and women are less likely to be able to have children by other means, and redressing the balance in this way is admirable.

I would also like to thank the Catholic Church for stoning my neighbour, who happened to work on a Sunday, and crucifying my other neighbour, who wore two different materials at the same time. Hear hear for that Church who turned a blind eye when my friend was raped. At least she wasn't male!

You are absolutely right, Nick. We have expressed prejudice and discrimination against the Catholic church for far too long. We really ought to start on those people who justly deserve it - the paediatricans.

  • 162.
  • At 05:56 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Eric wrote:

I see that the Archbishops of York and Cant. have written to the
PM and saying that the "rights of conscience cannot be made
subject to legislation, however well-meaning".

So, it's OK for Islamic suicide bombers to blow me up as long as
their consciences told them to do it?

Or for Jehovah's Witnesses to deny their children life-saving
blood transfusions?

Or for Christians to torture children if their priests say they
are possessed by devils?

Or for female circumcision to be carried out in the name of

*I* think not.

  • 163.
  • At 06:04 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Tim Hewish wrote:

Some of these posts are ridiculous in nature when saying racial discrimination is the same as disagreeing with the act of homosexuality (no.14.) Also the utterance that people are born gay is flawed. It would be morally wrong to not allow a black person services just because they are born with black skin, same for a white person. People can’t justify saying, ‘unlucky you were born black thus I refuse to provide you services’. However it has not been proven scientifically that homosexuality is biologically given. From a secular argument ‘the homosexual gene’ would be passed on, but because homosexuals cannot reproduce together this ‘gene’ would die out in one generation. Even if it could be passed on recessively, you would be able to track certain gene pools as being homosexual and discover that your family had homosexual tendencies in your DNA.

From a religious perspective, it is a sin to practise homosexuality, and if people believe that this is the case, their morality should be just as valid, even in today’s age of immorality. Practising homosexuality is therefore a life choice (sin’s are life choices btw) and therefore not a born innate desire. Being black, is not a life choice, but is a biologically given determinate, so using race on the same level as homosexuality is misguided.

(No.27.) The statement that the church has been against every social progressive movement is equally unfounded. The person who wrote that should look up who William Wilberforce was and his religious convictions. Christianity has supported equality for women in many forms; it is more of the case that society in general was against certain groups equality to due ‘contextual issues’ i.e. the zeitgeist of the times was that ‘black people and women were inferior biologically,’ this has been disproved rightly by secular morality free science.

In practical terms, does anyone think that a homosexual couples will look to religious groups to adopt? They will go elsewhere and get exactly what they want, regardless if people view their decision to raise children as morally wrong.

Finally, I do not think it should be discrimination if a parent does not want their child to grow up and choose to become a practising homosexual. Most parents wish to see their children grow up and marry the opposite sex and have grandchildren; if this becomes illegal this surely has become the age of delusion and immorality. Simply for Religious followers God’s Law is above the states law; Christ was crucified under Roman law for his beliefs, I wonder what liberal minded people think about that.

  • 164.
  • At 06:09 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Galileo wrote:

Prejudice and discrimination! Oh dear, poor things; the Catholic Church was not expecting the Spanish Inquisition!

  • 165.
  • At 06:16 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

I think that the service provided by the churches is beneficient, and does not hurt anyone. I think some way should be arranged for them to continue this service, in line with their rights to worship freely. I do NOT think this will happen, furthermore the majority of anti-church views on this site seem just that: anti-church, anti-catholic and vehemently so, and less concerned over whether childrens welfare is being compromised. I am not a catholic. I think that the contrasting rights debate, and the logical extensions people are drawing to argue points, are superceding the debate over where the best interests of the children lie. I would love to see a detailed study on whether single sex couples adopt children well, are more/less likely to seperate, whether adults raised this way are more/less likely to be good citizens etc. There is no such detailed study and it has become almost dangerous to ask some of the above quesions, but they must be of paramount importance, and it is unfortunate that they have been overrun by the automatic imposition of equal rights.

  • 166.
  • At 06:26 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • PBL wrote:

People should be allowed to believe that children are best adopted by heterosexual couples without being persecuted. Homosexuality is not naturally orientated toward parenthood; nature produces children from heterosexual couples. Not allowing men to use women's wash rooms is not discrimination against men - its only natural. Prefering children to be adopted by heterosexuals is only natural.

  • 167.
  • At 06:26 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Peter Lynch wrote:

I find this whole argument non-sensical. I'm 22, a practicing Catholic and abide by the laws of the land.
The Catholic Church (supported by other Christian denominations and other faiths) is stating BEFORE this law is passed that it goes against the Church's teachings and would force the closure of its agencies.
They deal with 4% of adoptions and with many children that are hard to home. The general consensus is that they do a really good job for these children.
Now, correct me if im wrong but gay couples would be able to adopt from an agency that deals with the other 96% of children if government let the Catholic Church opt out of this.

Is it not as important to uphold the Catholic Church's moral teachings and choices and the people who believe in these values as it is to uphold the values of people who choose to be gay?

Agencies have been given the role to look after these children and give them caring homes as they deem fit. Either the government takes this right away from Catholic agencies or they stand up for what they deem morally correct.

The Church isn't stopping gay couples from adopting children just the children in their care due to our moral beliefs. What's the problem? ITS CALLED COMPROMISING!!

  • 168.
  • At 06:29 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Nick Robinson reports: "Ruth Kelly is accused of putting her religion before her principles". For a Christian (and,indeed,a Muslim) their principles are rooted in their religion. Total non-discrimination is impossible; clearly some aspects of SOR discriminate against those with strongly held religious beliefs - which are not their own personal opinions but an integral part of their faith system

  • 169.
  • At 06:30 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • janey H wrote:

Can someone please explain to me where Jesus says it is wrong to be gay or lesbian? I thought that what he preached was love not descrimination.

  • 170.
  • At 06:33 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • SJH wrote:

You are quite right- mention the Catholic Church and all manner of ignorant loudmouths come out for a potshot, all in the notional name of tolerance or rationality. True to form, a good number have appeared above.

This is partly because few people in the media are concerned to show the unrivalled work of the Church for the poor, the disabled, the powerless and the forgotten. Nor is there any effort to show the insightful and sophisticated nature of the Church's vast body of teaching and thought. Caricature and snideness seem to be the only modes which get any popular airing.

I was born a Catholic and it has been an incomparable gift. It is like a great and inexhaustible poem which is not immediately understood but keeps giving up meaning, so that things which did not make sense can unexpectedly reveal their rightness. Now having young children, the rightness of the Church's teachings on marriage, love and children seems to me deeply human and deeply perceptive.

But I also bear in mind the words of Pope John XXIII who died in 1963: 'Remember the Church has many enemies, but she is the enemy of no one.'

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that homosexuals should be treated with love, dignity and respect which is surely and unquestionably right, as indeed any human should. It is to the Church's great credit that the weak, the poor, the powerless and the forgotten are deeply cherished by it. There are also many Catholic homosexuals. But it does not follow that the Catholic Church should be obliged by law to promote the ability of homosexual couples to raise children in substitution for a mother and a father.

  • 171.
  • At 06:34 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I had four immediate thoughts when I read this story. Firstly, why should Catholic agencies be made to do something that disagrees with their beliefs? Their belief is perfectly reasonable even if I don't agree with it personally. Secondly, why is the government trying to dictate what we should believe with another piece of restrictive legislation? Thirdly, a law is a law and there can be no exemption. Whether this is a good law or not is an entirely different debate. Lastly, I believe gay couples should be able to adopt but I don't expect everyone else to share my opinion. So as long as they are able to adopt and have that right I don't see the problem with certain agencies disagreeing with this veiwpoint and not allowing them to adopt from them specifically.
I don't usually like to say what I am, it feels like I'm trying to validate my opinions, but on this occassion I want to point out I'm a gay agnostic. I think the government is most to blame.

  • 172.
  • At 06:46 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Colin Traverse wrote:

I find myself strongly in disagreement over this issue. It is not 'normal' for children to be brought up by a pair of homosexuals.
What is normal is for them to be brought up by a Mother and a Father, or, if one or both of them are killed, by the nearest relative possible.
If we are to acept the premise that homosexuality is 'normal' as we are now supposed to believe, then the human race will die out in one generation.
I thought that the idea of adoption was to give the child the chance of a normal life.
Perhaps what is meant by 'normal' under this projected law is actually 'P.C. mockery of normality, insisted by upon by people whose aim seems to be to dress the emperor in ever finer clothes

  • 173.
  • At 07:03 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Rob van Velsen wrote:

The UK is a Christian country. Both Houses of Parliament even begin each day with prayer. There is also a Bible in the House.
Therefore, the Christian belief, being displayed in the Bible, can never be ignored in this country.
The Bible itself is very clear about homosexuality. It's not merely a human opinion, but it is God himself saying that a family exists of a man and a woman. He clearly says homosexuality is wrong (Romans 1).

So, if the Roman Catholic and Anglican Church act on what God says, and what the belief is of this country, no-one can ever deny them the right of exemption.

Having said this, God does love homosexuals, not their deeds, but he does love them as persons. In Jesus He also died for their mistakes. Just as for anyone's mistakes, if we repend and believe in Jesus Christ.

  • 174.
  • At 07:07 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Stephen O'Donnell wrote:

The Catholic adoption agencies have a duty to find the best environment for the children in their care to be brought up.
All other things being equal(or near enough) a committed heterosexual Mother and Father is the best option possible.
Oh and that is not ideology rather the outcome of millions of years of evolution!

  • 175.
  • At 07:10 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

I agree with your comment regarding the vilification towards Catholics which this debate has aroused. It seems to me that there is a latent hatred out there towards Catholics indeed recent discussions on the Beeb´s HYS column concerning religion are full of contemporary anti-Catholic vitriol. I presume that most of those who vilify the Catholic Church would regard themselves as tolerant, open-minded liberals and the reason for their condemnations of the Catholic Church is because they see it as being illiberal, intolerant, etc. The basis of a tolerant society is where differences, even fundamental ones such as those involved in the gay adoption debate can be debated, in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Those who condemn the Catholic Church for intolerance weaken their case when they abuse and insult those who they don´t agree with. If even self confessed open minded liberals cannot display tolerance then why bother with legislation like the Equality Act! This whole episode confirms my belief that tolerance is a myth, which is invoked by those who wish to force their views on others.

The reason I´m fundametally against this legislation is because I believe in minimal legislation. I don´t believe there is case for the all encompassing legislation which the Act proposes. Why penalise the Catholic Church on this issue as Gay people can adopt children at the moment, albeit through non-catholic agencies? If the Catholic adoption agencies are doing a good job placing children they should be allowed to continue to carry out the work they are doing. The Government should concentrate on the real issues of the day, like reducing the burden of the State and it should spend less time trying to make the people of the UK conform to its ideological project through draconian legislation like the Equality Act.

  • 176.
  • At 07:10 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Marci wrote:

I am appalled that there are so few comments relating to what is best for the child, which should be all that matters. Surely children should be placed in a home that will be as close as possible to ideal, and that includes maximizing the acceptance of the child in his or her school or community. From the child's standpoint, a loving mother and father of the same race and religion of the child would surely be ideal and allow them to fit into their community and new family with the greatest ease. Yet that would be seen as discrimination by race, religion, and sexual orientation.

Adoption is the one situation where you need to forget the "discrimination" rules and "discriminate" in favor of what would be most "normal" for an individual child.

I am not predjudice against gays. I have gay friends who are parents and they do a good job. But their child does get teased - never forget how cruel children can be.

Certainly gays should be allowed to adopt if a more "ideal" match cannot be found for the child, but let's stop pretending that if all else were equal that it should be a coin toss between a gay couple and a straight couple. Ask any child what they would prefer.

  • 177.
  • At 07:22 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • sol wrote:

Double-think confuses me. If the Catholic Adoption Agencies are obliged to place children with gay couples whether they want to or not, why do Governement Agencies not have to place children of one colour with parents of another colour, whether they want to or not? I have no preference either way - except to ask for some consistency in our PC attitudes or some logic. Either would do.

  • 178.
  • At 07:31 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

I've always had a problem with monotheism because of it's inherent tendency to work against a pluralist society. However many of the attacks on the position of the Catholic church are "religious" in their fervour, aggressive and intolerant. Are these not all the hallmarks of a crude pseudo-religion?

Final thought - isn't Law essentially illiberal? We have far too many laws, and many of those we have are bad (unless you're a lawyer, like so many of our MP's).

I've already written to Ruth Kelly asking for the necessary forms to register the new religion I've founded.

I've yet to translate the holy scrolls completely, but they seem to indicate that I should refuse to pay any taxes to a government that is waging war. My god, The Great Imaginary Friend has decreed it.

Presumably, as this will be a matter of conscience, I will get, at the very least, a six month exemption from paying taxes.

  • 180.
  • At 07:45 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

Can a Catholic answer these for me please:

1. Should Catholic hoteliers be permitted to turn away gay couples who ask for accommodation?

2. Should a Protestant adoption agency be permitted to turn away Catholic couples?

As far as I can tell this obvious intolerance and bigotry on the part of the Catholic church should immediately preclude any kind of state finance or charitable status.

  • 181.
  • At 08:13 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Mandy wrote:

Thanks for telling it like it is, Nick. It seems that anti-catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice in this country. As you say, the whole issue may be a question about competing rights, but there is a fundamental difference between the two sides.

Catholics and catholic adoption agencies are not seeking to impose their views or practices on the whole of society, but are trying to live out their beliefs in accordance with their religion.

On the other hand, gay rights campaigners (and their supporters in the cabinet) are seeking to impose their views and practices on the rest of us (including catholic adoption agencies). In this case by seeking to make catholic adoption agencies abandon their catholic principles and conform to a gay rights agenda.

Well something seems to be affecting Ruth Kelly and Tony Blair's views... but it's certainly not the Labour party long term commitment to equality is it?

Ruth Kellys record on equalities is hardly glowing and this may be the final nail in her ministerial coffin. It certainly is overdue.

Having a minister who's responsible for equalities who's been silent on LGBT equality and who is responsible for social housing yet complained about a social housing development close to her home just seems to me to be a minister who should be doing one thing and does the complete opposite.

  • 183.
  • At 08:22 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • ali wrote:

How would a catholic adoption agency deal with the placement of a homosexual child?

  • 184.
  • At 08:32 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Arthur Rusdell-Wilson wrote:

Cathlic adoption agencies should be obliged to recomend gays as adoptive parents. To allow an exemption is to discriminate against gays. And Jewish and Muslim butchers should be obliged to sell pork. To allow an exemption is to discriminate against pigs. I rest my case.

  • 185.
  • At 08:35 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • JEFF DUNCAN wrote:

We either all have equality or none of us have it.

The Catholic church has been an aggressive, hostile and un-christian sect for a long time - fighting tooth and nail to stop the age of consent being lowered so gay men were in line with heterosexuals, they were opposed to equal pension and tax rights for gay couples, they are opposed adoption ... the list goes on .. they call gays perverts, unnatural, deviants, pedophiles ...

If you replaced the word gay with Black they Catholic church leaders would be in jail by now! SO why should they be allowed to preach their hate and demand to do so as if they are some sort of higher beings?

Let's get the law passed and drag these relics from the 18th century into the 21st!!

  • 186.
  • At 08:42 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Jen, Liverpool wrote:

As a christian myself from a free church background I personally hold the same view as the Catholic Church. I can not participate in this discussion with a neutral opinion however I am attempting to understand both sides of the argument. It is clear that gay/lesbian couples are very loving people with caring hearts, and to bare the brunt of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation must be very hurtful indeed. Nevertheless, to have a faith or religious belief which is a part of every aspect of your life and to be 'forced' to compromise just one of those beliefs would completely undermine the core faith.
We can try to be understanding towards each side but unfortunately there will not be a way around this issue that will please both parties, there will always be discrimination.

  • 187.
  • At 08:49 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Aidan wrote:

The question here is whether the right of a gay person or couple to seek adoption is greater than the right of an individual to pracise his or her faith.

To my mind, you cannot choose between those rights - this country is founded on freedom of expression - therefore an exemption is the best way through the impasse.

As for the secularists like Andrew Walker, what is most striking about them is their total intolerance of religion whilst demanding that other people tolerate their views unquestioningly.

  • 188.
  • At 09:19 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • barry brooke wrote:

Controversy only arises when a
Goverment and the nation at large fl-
aly refuses at all cost to accept what the Bible plainly teaches about
homosexuality!! The so-called church
of Rome/church of England have little
say in the matter because as far as i am aware,they have failed to use
Biblical autherity to challenge the
gay rights law which comes into for-
ce in April of this year!!!!
I have been a Bible believing
Christian for a number of years and
have now reached the firm conclusion
that this country is now almost TOT-
ALLY bankrupt both spiritually and
morally!! What a state we are in!!

  • 189.
  • At 09:27 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

"Sexual orientation" is a euphemism for grossly immoral behaviour, and these new "Gay Rights Laws" are yet another attempt to force the people and churches of Britain to accept and support it.

There will be many who dispute this and say otherwise, but what they say is only their opinion. That is only worth as much as they are, and, when they are rotting in their graves, that will be nothing at all.

The only opinion with any enduring worth is that of God himself. His character defines what is moral and immoral, and He has condemned sodomy and those who practice such behaviour.

Our response should be helped these people to reject this behaviour and live moral lives.

  • 190.
  • At 09:34 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • David Cook wrote:

"If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." (Leviticus 20:13) if a Catholic murders a gay man, should he be exempted because he believes it is right?

  • 191.
  • At 09:57 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Séan wrote:

I am saddened by this debate, as a gay Catholic. I have no desire for children, borne or adopted. Nor have I any desire to remain part of a church which cannot admit that it has diversity in its ranks at grass-roots level. Some say, what would jesus have done? I say, what is he doing? Weeping, I guess! We risk centuries of quality work being snuffed out on matters of theological principle which sometimes mask the true debate which is about a media fascination for the seemingly waning authority of Mr Blair. Meanwhile, both church and state diminish in stature and grace.

  • 192.
  • At 10:08 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • David wrote:

Thank you for this balanced and thoughtful piece. As 96% of agencies welcome gay couples and as Catholic agencies provide information about alteratives, this legisaltion is pure imposition of the majority view (promoting gay marriage) on the Catholic minority, forcing them to agree or close down. Where is respect for diversity here? How easily the persecuted slip into the role of persecutors.

  • 193.
  • At 10:10 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Barry wrote:

Nobody should have a problem with 'robust debate.' Nobody should have a problem with people holding different views. Everybody should have a major problem with anybody displaying hatred, vilification, ridicule and prejudice of people for their individual views and beliefs.

The tenor of some of the comments over the last couple of days has revealed an alarming level of prejudice. People posting comments trying to belittle, insult or ridicule their opponents do their own cause no favours. Maybe we all need to think twice about the effect that our comments have on other people, instead of focusing on how other people's comments offend us.

  • 194.
  • At 10:14 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Harry Small wrote:

I thinik in the light of this rather stark opinion it is not unreasonable to ask whther Nick Robinson is (a) a Roman Catholic or (b) gay.

  • 195.
  • At 12:24 AM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Phil wrote:

As far as I can make out the main reason that catholics are against homosexuality is because the bible says so. Perhaps any christians can explain why we should take notice of some of the passages in the bible that condemn it but ignore those which promote murder, slavery, rape, animal cruelty, discrimination of the physically impaired and ethnic cleansing? The reason why the catholic church comes in for so much abuse on this matter is that those of us who are not religious know what the catholic church's record of trying to sweep paedophile priests under the carpet is like.

  • 196.
  • At 12:28 AM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

This will be a test to see just how democratic Britain is, whether there is a separation of church and state, and whether laws are applied uniformly to everyone. The state reserves to itself the right to determine the disposition of children put up for adoption. Those it allows to act as its agents must conform to a strict set of rules which it lays down. Refusal can only result in disqualification to act as the government's agent. Any other outcome distinguishes the church as a priveleged entity obtaining special recognition from government. They can call it anything they like, the law is the law, and a lie is a lie is a lie. Those who tell lies are liars and those who break the law are criminals no matter what the pretext. Britain, I'm watching you to see just how good you really are.

  • 197.
  • At 12:41 AM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Marios wrote:

After a lifetime of unconsciously thinking myself superior in my - at times - militant atheism, I'm suddenly horrified to look around and realise that my corner is full of callow, ignorant bigots. Not so very comfortable!

Looks to me that this legislation seeks to replace citizen-minority intolerance (I'm not overly convinced that it will do this in any significant cases) with state-minority intolerance (cf foxhunting bill - at the time, it never occurred to me that it could be bad to legalise the imposition of a 'moral' position of a majority on a (unpopular) minority).

I can't help but think that taking advantage of (potentially temporary) mass accord to legitimise the concept of moral homogenisation as reasonable grounds for legislation directed at minorities could come back to later bite minorities in the fundament. Maybe it'll never happen to a minority that I'm in, but still ...

  • 198.
  • At 12:52 AM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Sarah wrote:

Gay rights are extremely important. Children's rights are even more important. I applaud the Catholic church for putting what they perceive to be in the best interest of the children first. I have known a number of children brought up by gay couples - most often one of them a biological parent who subsequently came out. Maybe I have only know 9 such children, but they were all badly bullied about it. Yes, society does need to change. But the way to change society is not be inceasing the risk of more suffering to some of the most vulnerable and traumatised children in society. Adults should fight battles for equality. But adults should keep children out of their battles.

  • 199.
  • At 01:08 AM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Laura wrote:

When most of the new generation today are not religious and even if they are, the younger society is becoming very open minded about sexuality. Why do we care so much about the discrimination to the catholics, when gay couples are being completely discriminated against, when the couples who gave up the children in the first place were actually hetrosexual and yet they could not handle having the child. Why does this mean that a hetrosexual couple does a better job at parenting than a gay one? Does it matter who the children are with as long as they have some where to call home, and someone who loves them.

  • 200.
  • At 01:16 AM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • paul clement wrote:

This clearly touches high sensitivities.

I believe that no -one should be discriminbated against !

Not just the tub - bashers for the current "in vougue" modern theories - or the old long established traditions .

Let the gay rights campaigners who have much experience of this sort of thing, consider for a moment whether they themselves are not to be guilty of carrying out a form of discrimination ,

Discrimination is WRONG per se !

There appears to be a gulf of misunderstanding, and one that is leading to a certain amount of acrimony - on both sides.

I am a Christian, and I think that it is worth exploring what the Biblical position.

We live in a fallen world. God's best is that sex should be kept within marriage, anything other than that is sin. This is because this is the best way for people to live, it creates a safe place for people to live and grow.

However, this is not how we live, and indeed if the world did live with God's ideal of committed love there would probably be very few babies up for adoption.

How do you adapt? We are all sinners, some heterosexual some homosexual. Homosexual desire is not sin, but when we give in to temptation and sex it is. Someone who lives in a homosexual relationship is living in a sinful relationship. However, anyone who gives in on a permanent basis to the struggle against sin, whatever that sin is, cannot call themselves a follower of Jesus. We all fail, and God longs to love us and restore us, the problem comes when we say no we want to stay in something that God says is wrong.

It is not ideal, but to favour heterosexual sexual sinners over homosexual sexual sinners appears to be wrong. Homosexual sin is incompatible with following Jesus Christ, but you could argue that much that the church does is also.

None of us is perfect therefore so should no one adopt? Jesus did not say he and she who is without sin may adopt, because if He did no child would be adopted.

People need to be treated as people with respect and love whatever their sexuality. As Christians we need to be able to disagree with what people do, but still show that we love and care for them.

We are not perfect ourselves, and we need to remember that.

My own view is that it would be better to warn of the dangers but see how it works in practise. Confrontation does not help anyone. I believe all sex outside marriage is wrong, but that does not stop me from having friends who do very differently. Jesus Himself was known as a friend of sinners.

Christians have allowed themselves to be backed into a corner, no perhaps we have backed ourselves into a corner.

The vilification of faith is not surprising, and is likely to grow, and may one day convert itself into persecution. Look at history, and secularism when it gains mastery tends to be intolerant.

However churches in intolerant regimes tend to be more vibrant, not less, and perhaps as Christians we need to totally re-examine how we do church.

I'm not saying change our beliefs, I do believe that homosexual sex is wrong, and is something God calls us from, however God's message is primarily that of unconditional love to people who do not deserve it, and I think we are not communicating that. Therefore we (myself included) are ourselves partly to blame for the predicament we find ourselves in. So sorry and God bless.

  • 202.
  • At 04:06 AM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Dan wrote:

Why don't you people stop being so selfish and think about the rights of the children for once. After all. The majority of people in the world don't agree with this thing called same sex marriage. There can be no discrimination against something that really doesn't exist? Who is forcing their opinions on society now?

  • 203.
  • At 08:31 AM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

One point, is the Church discriminating against gay people, or single-sex couples? I think it is an important point as being a single-sex couple is a choice, not an orientation.

An example: my sexual orientation is to have sex with as many women as possible. However, my moral choice is to have a monogamous marriage with one. If I was to have a bevy of concubines and attempt to adopt I would hope that I would get refused. Would this be discrimination against my sexual orientation or my social choices?

  • 204.
  • At 10:07 AM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • liz wrote:

At 12:22 PM on 25 Jan 2007, Juvenal wrote:
You say:
'There is one important difference. The religious viewpoint on gay rights is based on a belief or faith in something that cannot be proven.'
I say: are you trying to disprove the Bible?

You Say:
Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, on the other hand, is sadly very real indeed.
I say: The way law is going soon churches, temples etc will not be able to preach what they believe is right. Discrimination? So people choose to believe and have faith, but they've been doing it for thousands of years. Discrimination is becoming very real with religion- whether one is a muslim, catholic or christian.

I just don't understand the inability to see both sides of the argument displayed in all these replies.

The catholic church wishes to help children who have no parents/family to find a family where they can thrive. The church also (being a church!) wishes to stay true to its fundamental beliefs - one of which seems to be that a child is better off with a mother and a father. If they believe this, why shouldn't they choose not to place children with a partnership that they believe (rightly or wrongly) will not be beneficial to the child?

The first reply states that "You can 'believe' in anything, but that doesn't make it right to force your opinions on others." but this is exactly what the law is doing - this is a question of whose opinion is going to be forced on who.
Will the law force Catholics (and muslims and christians and possibly jews etc) to give up state-sponsored social help because it flies in the face of their belief, or will catholics, by expressing their belief, force gay couples to look elsewhere to find children to adopt. Which is the lesser of the two evils?

  • 206.
  • At 12:14 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Mike Homfray wrote:

Catholic opinion on this issue supports discrimination.It is right to stand firm against such belief.

  • 207.
  • At 12:20 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Ihateidiots wrote:

THis government is supposed to be all about being tolerant of different groups, religions etc. So where is the tolerance of the Catholic Church's beliefs? This law when passed will run roughshod all over the whole idea of tolerance. Why can we not live in a country where a church can run it's own adoption agencies any more? I just want to add that I disagree with the church over this, but I for one am willing to tolerate it as I have been taught to do.

  • 208.
  • At 12:23 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Willie Samuel wrote:

Two points. Firstly the Catholic Church has long been subject to biggotry, as anyone from the West Coast of Scotland will tell you.

I despise such views.

Secondly, however, the Catholic Church cannot be allowed to be biggoted 'for the greater good'. Legislation to prevent discrimination is bigger and more important than that. And I'm sorry to say that the Catholic Church is very unwise to play the 'welfare of children' card. Far too many children have suffered abuse by priests and in Church run institutions and still the Church has to properly confront the abuse within its walls.

  • 209.
  • At 01:08 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • John wrote:

Could i ask what your religious convictions are, Nick?

  • 210.
  • At 01:19 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Claire wrote:

C'mon Nick.

The Catholic Church is placig its prejudice against gay people above its stated aim of helping children.

There is plenty of evidence that many gay couples have made very good adoptive parents, and the Catholic adoption agencies choose to ignore that evidence and deprive children of the chance of a good and loving home rather than act in the bst intersts of the cildren.

The Catholic Church as an institution has a very poor record on child protection, involving the sysematic coverup of chld abuse, including the papal-ordered intimidation of victims. When that same body sets out to use its political muscle to enforce its prejudices at children's expense, is it any surprise that some of the responses use rather intemperate language?

The Catholic Church is not the victim here, and should stop pretending that it is. This crisis is entirely of its own making, and it has a simple way to take the heat off itself: stop using children as the pawns in its bigotry.

  • 211.
  • At 01:36 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Alex Swanson wrote:

"I am struck by the level of vilification being meted out to those with strongly held religious views. "

How sheltered is your life! Vilification of opponents is the socialist way and always has been. Striking that you only notice it when it's between lefties and haven't when - including hate mail which I personally have received in the past - it is directed at those of us who have the presumption to have non-PC views.

  • 212.
  • At 02:00 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Annya_X wrote:

If the Catholic Church doesn't want to place children with gay couples fine. If they want to refuse gay couples and still receive public funding that is quite another matter.

How would people feel if Councils refused to give gay couples social housing when they need it (because it would encourage "unnatural activity"). Or if they were refused relationship counselling (because it's an "unnatural" relationship).

Adoption agencies provide a service (by helping people through the adoption process - not because they're distributing babies to all and sundry as some seem to have suggested)

Organisations using public funds must serve the public and that means all of the public. Whether you agree with their sexuality or not.

  • 213.
  • At 02:08 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • gwenhwyfaer wrote:

"If you believe in a natural order"...

Firstly, the argument that the way humans organise their society should be constrained by what is "natural" would leave rape, paedophilia and infanticide quite acceptable. (Homosexuality is also prevalent in the animal kingdom, oddly enough.) Are you sure that's an argument you'd like to pursue?

Nonetheless, the problem here is the "if you believe" part, and that, I suspect, is why so many people arguing against any exception are doing so. You can believe what you please - but if you want to force others to live by that belief, you'd better have something more constructive than "God said so" as an argument as to why! Take murder as an example - yes, there's a common (but not entirely universal) belief that deliberately taking life is wrong; nonetheless, there are plenty of persuasive arguments that can be advanced, quite independently of belief, as to why murder should remain criminalised.

And by discriminating against other people - whether by refusing them adoption service, or refusing them a room for the night - you are forcing them to live by your beliefs, regardless of whether they share them. If they're lucky, they'll be able to find a more enlightened establishment; if the discrimination has wide societal support (like that against black people in the 60s, and judging by the takeup of the term "gay" as a generic insult, that against homosexuals even today) they may be left quite stuck.

Now, whether discrimination should be legislated upon at all or left to work itself out is a separate debate - but one thing is for sure; if there is such a law, there should be absolutely NO exceptions to it - otherwise it defeats its own purpose; it enshrines the very discrimination it seeks to outlaw. And the idea that legislation which governs all should pander to the superstitions or prejudices of one minority by oppressing another minority should be abhorrent to anyone with a trace of empathy.

  • 214.
  • At 02:56 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Matthew Birks wrote:


I don't agree that Catholics in public life should feel as though they are being subject to prejudice or discrimination.

As I read this situation, it is the application of private religious belief on the political decision making process that the public and parts of the media object to.

Any right thinking individual has to respect the right of another individual to follow private religious belief. However, members of all religions have to accept that their beliefs should never influence the lives of other groups, unless of course, those religions choose to enter the political arena and seek to secure an electoral majority. I wonder how many votes the 'Catholic Party' would secure?

I am afraid that this debate is another example of how strongly held religious belief polarises debate and causes ill feeling on all sides.

British Catholics are a minority group. The majority of the British public are not in favour of discrimination against gay people. If Catholic politicians cannot accept that, they will be subject to criticism for putting their private interests ahead of the interests of the majority of people they represent. This is not discrimination, it is being held to account by those who politicians claim to represent.

  • 215.
  • At 03:21 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • George Reddan wrote:

Does this mean Labour will also be forcing the Catholic Church to conduct gay marriages? After all, refusing to marry gay couples is of equal prejudice to refusing adoption rights, is it not?

  • 216.
  • At 04:04 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Bob Jennings wrote:

The aptly named author of 214 states;
"The majority of the British public are not in favour of discrimination against gay people"
From where on earth did he get this?

It might be more accurate to say:
"The majority of the British public tacitly accept gay people"

For my part and in accepting their existence, I simply cannot understand them. I'm not unhappy to accept their unnatural practices since I'm comforted in the knowledge that they cannot breed!

However, is the adoption of vulnerable children by gay people not a way of overcoming this misfortune?

Up the Catholics - I might yet be persuaded to join you!

  • 217.
  • At 04:51 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Andrew Main wrote:

Interesting debate we're having about religion. But hang on a minute: I thought this was supposed to be about adoption and discrimination.

There are a bunch of people who want to continue denying children the best guardians simply on the grounds of the prospective guardians' gender. A lot of them want this because of their religious beliefs. But that's a red herring in the debate. The motive is irrelevant. What matters is the state of affairs that they wish to perpetuate.

There's also been talk about freedom of belief. Another red herring, because no one is actually disputing anyone's right to believe that discrimination is a good (or bad) thing, or to say so. These freedoms are an important aspect of our democracy, so it's easy to get wound up about them. But we're wasting our time talking about them, because these rights are not affected by the subject of this debate.

Now can we all, please, stop talking about religion and just get on with disagreeing with the bigots?

  • 218.
  • At 11:53 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Robert, Brussels wrote:

According to Newsnight tonight, Blair appears (for once) about to cave in to the majority cabinet view against ANY exceptions to the same sex legilation. If this means the resignation of Ruth Kelly, no one will miss her very much.

More importantly, if it means that catholic adoption agencies close, so much the better! Harry wrote "If all this religion close there agencies,it is going to be a blow to uk." I would say that it is inconceivable that we Brits hand over such as weighty responsibility as child adoption to ANY religious grouping.

We tend to criticize the French a lot, but at least they have their act together when it comes to the secular state - viz the debate about wearing headscarfs, veils or other religious paraphernalia in schools and workplaces. In France, it simply isn't tolerated in schools.

  • 219.
  • At 04:23 AM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

The law is the law and if Parliament passes the law that is it. IT IS WRONG TO GIVE EMEMPTION ON RELIGEOUS BELIEFS. Don't forget the Sheik's got exemption from wearing crash helmets to enable them to wear turbans - this exemption was unfair - the law should apply to everyone

  • 220.
  • At 11:11 AM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

Dear Nick,
Please make your mind up what side of the fence you are on. On two days running you write two very different articles. It is stupid for the church of rome to say they are being discriminated against, but then they should know I guess,being the ones who burnt people at stakes for thier beleifs. Lets get rid of this clap trap. Religion has no place in democracy. For god sake look at September 11th, those killers said they were going to heaven. As for discimination, look at the writings on this page from so called christians. I think if the Jesus christ was here to read it he would despair that after 2000 years we havent grown up we have stagnated. And by the way I dont think many gay people would be seen dead at a religous agency, we have already seen the damage, death and destruction that so called religion still reaps around the world. I suggest these people go to church this sunday and pray the lord god will free them from these hatred feelings towards fellow man. And by the way The church of rome is not the state church, so keep your moral ramblings for your priestd and bishops in rome.

  • 221.
  • At 01:36 PM on 28 Jan 2007,
  • Arthur Rusdell-Wilson wrote:

I am afraid the rational majority sold the pass to the bigotted poltically correct when they were lulled into regarding 'discriminate' as a bad word. To discriminate is good. It is to discern difference and to make rational decisions on the to course of action to be foillowed base on what is discerned. In essence, to discriminate is to discriminate BETWEEN not to discriminate AGAINST. We should have fought against this semantic shift, which is now being used as a weapon to inflict bigotted policies on the country.

  • 222.
  • At 12:07 PM on 29 Jan 2007,
  • Mark Green wrote:

I think this is all a great idea. Now I'm just looking forward to the state ensuring Muslim women can worship in the same mosques as their menfolk. Oh, and the police ensuring that butchers can no longer be discriminated against by the crypto-fascist application of the terms "kosher" and "halaal".

This is all madness. If you permit the practise of any religion you also have to accept the idea that faiths have beliefs and moralities that differ both from other religions as well as mainstream thought or the latest trend in political correctness. And this latest move merely looks like the usual bashing of the non-ethnic-minority, Christian, heterosexual, middle-class we've seen become increasing popular under this Labour administration.

Quick reality check - who really gets hurt? If the Catholic Church doesn't want to place children with certain couple because of a religious belief then don't give them state money. Other agencies will use the money and provide the service. Win-win.

  • 223.
  • At 01:54 PM on 29 Jan 2007,
  • michelle wrote:

[sarcasm]A gay couple wanting to adopt. My god, they'll want the right to vote next.[/sarcasm]

  • 224.
  • At 04:29 PM on 29 Jan 2007,
  • Sam wrote:

I find it rather irritating that it is assumed to be against gay adoption you must be religeous. Well i am an athiest and yet i think gays adopting children is damaging to those children and putting there rights second in the name of political correctness.

Those children have rights. Gay people made a life style choice, nobody least of all gay people who made such a choice have a right to a child. Having a child is a privelledge and seeing as children are the product of a heterosexual relationship they have the right to be brought up in the same manner.

I have no problem with gay weddings or gay rights generally there is no purpose to discriminate but i think this is damaging to children.

And whats more despite the obvious bias by the BBC on this issue (undoubtedly becuase the BBC is filled with left leaning gay liberals) you will find the vast majority of people in this country agree that gay adoption is wrong and should be illegal. Hence the reason this law like many others is being pushed through undemocratically with no referendum or any mention in the labour manefesto in the last general election.

  • 225.
  • At 05:37 PM on 29 Jan 2007,
  • Dale Croft wrote:

Surely the way forward is simply to accept that the Catholic church cannot accept funds from the UK government to support its adoption agencies and at the same time break the law set by the government. Most gay people don't want to be in a situation where the church is forced to work with them against it's wishes.

So if the church wants to find alternative funding (sponsors, the Opus Dei etc) to fund this worthy cause then it's fine.

This is also similar to the no-gays stance by "christian" hotels. Can we imagine the fuss if in our high streets we started putting up signs outside (gay) coffee shops that said "No blacks, No christians" or "No muslims allowed here"! We all form part of a tolerant mult-cultural society that believes in (and has voted for) plurality and if we wish to be in a public-service role be that child-adoption, serving coffee or a hotel we have no right to impose discrimination on others because of our own moral beliefs.

  • 226.
  • At 06:40 PM on 29 Jan 2007,
  • Ron Layton wrote:

Clearly, what we have here is a conscientious objection based on the teaching of a world wide religious faith that is accepted and respected. Homosexual and lesbian relationships are unacceptable within Catholic Church, as they are considered sinful.

It seems to me, that very good reasons exist not to compel the Catholic Church to abandon a fundamental article of faith without compromising the anti-discrimination legislation.

Previous justification and precedent include:
1. Conscientious objection accepted as a valid reason for refusing to bear arms at time of war.

2. Sikhs not being compelled to remove their turban when riding a motorcycle in order to wear a crash helmet.

Thus, the principle of conscientious objection has been accepted in the past with the proviso that it does not endanger other members of society nor prejudice their civil right.

In addition, the principle of choice has been promoted as beneficial to society. It is held that a variety of services and facilities should be provided.

In this particular instance single sex couples wanting to adopt are not being denied access to a service since the facilities of other agencies can be used.

It seems to me that there is strong case for this law to be considered a prejudice against deeply held. Precious religious beliefs that pose no threat to others are being denied.

  • 227.
  • At 12:35 PM on 30 Jan 2007,
  • Arthur Rusdell-Wilson wrote:

Given the success of the hunting fraternity in continuing their activities, perhaps Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor should now consult with the Countryside Alliance?

  • 228.
  • At 02:31 PM on 30 Jan 2007,
  • Anne jones wrote:

A quick point to Tony Palmer (number 24: you may like to check which country you're in! This is officially a Church of ENGLAND Country, and that is the faith the monarch is defending, not Catholicism. Check the long and complicated persecutions of our history!

  • 229.
  • At 02:39 PM on 31 Jan 2007,
  • mariahouse wrote:

If social services can insist that mixed-race children be placed with mixed-race foster parents or adopters and black children must be placed with black ones then why can't catholics insist that catholic children be placed with catholic parents?

  • 230.
  • At 07:25 PM on 01 Feb 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Rev Roy, you ask why the logical conclusion that man+man or woman+woman cannot have children.

So single people should have their children taken away because it is unnatural?

As to the others saying that they are "thinking of the children", no you are not.

In what way does a gay father or mother change the situation of being in a family from being good to being worse than an orphan?

Really, what changes?

Ignoring God, which as a matter of Faith should not be used in any conversation you want to assert "logical" in?

  • 231.
  • At 07:32 PM on 01 Feb 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

"Anthony Ford wrote:
I am tired of being called a bigot by those whose reaction has surprised you. They are liberal in name, but not in nature."

But you seem to feel Gays are an Abomination and Unloved by God. Why? Because you believe it to be true.

Isn't that bigotry? Or am I being naive?

  • 232.
  • At 08:25 PM on 01 Feb 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Fred Watson, we're talking about orphaned children, some of whom have been abandoned by their parents.

So how can this legislation be against you deciding what you can do with your children? If they're your children, why did you abandon them?

To others, children aren't being considered a service, but then again, the children aren't being forced to obey this law either: the ADULTS who are providing an adoption SERVICE (note the subtle hint: you may miss it!) are being told to obey the law.

Ohh, lastly, regarding the Boston closure thing:are Christians saying that their faith is more important than a child having a family? They stopped supplying hetero couples to children as well, remember.

  • 233.
  • At 04:38 PM on 21 Feb 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Gay people are entitled to their beliefs as are Catholics, why then does it seem that the rights of gay people are preceding over religious rights?

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