LONDON – A Christian doctor struck off an adoption panel for her views on homosexuality is petitioning to have her case heard in the European Court of Justice.
Dr. Sheila Matthews, a pediatrician, was dismissed from Northamptonshire Council Adoption Panel, after she asked to abstain from voting on the placement of children with homosexual couples because it went against her professional and Christian beliefs that it is in the best interests of a child to be placed with a father and mother, rather than a homosexual couple.
Although she was partially reinstated in her job following outcry over the council's decision, she was no longer allowed to continue as a full member of the adoption panel, a move which prompted her to resign in March this year.
Christian Concern, which is backing her case, said Matthews had effectively been "excluded" from practicing her vocation because of her Christian views and her professional judgment.
She is going before an Employment Tribunal in Leicester today to request that her case be referred to the European Court of Justice.
"I sought to do my job to a high standard to support the making of good decisions in the best interests of these children," she said. "I do not consider myself to be homophobic, however I believe that children do best in families with a father and mother playing different roles in a child's upbringing and committed to each other in a lifelong relationship."
Matthews questioned why it was not possible for Northamptonshire Council to allow her to abstain from votes on placements with same-sex couples, which she said accounted for less than one in 20 cases.
She said she wanted the European Court of Justice to address the issue of how different rights can be accommodated without disadvantaging one group.
"I think it is vital for a healthy society to have tolerance of difference of opinion – how else do we learn and consider and shape our opinion freely? Respectful reasoned debate is essential. It is possible to disagree without being offensive to another person," she said.
Christian Concern said the outcome of Matthews' case could affect the careers of many Christian and other professional medical staff and the future of children in need of adoption.
Matthews is being represented by the Christian Legal Center.
Its chief executive, Andrea Minichiello Williams, stated, "It cannot be right that a doctor of such standing is forced from her role on an adoption panel, just because of her professional and Christian views. Much of the population, and many studies, would agree with her professional and personal standpoint.
"Most professional opinion on this issue happens to fit closely with the Christian view. Yet Christians are being increasingly excluded from the public square and this can no longer go unnoticed."