Half of U.K. Catholic Adoption Centers Forced to Serve Gay Couples

Half of the Catholic adoption agencies that the Roman Catholic Church threatened to shut down in the United Kingdom if they were forced to work with gay couples have decided to comply to the new equality law after the exemption period expired at the beginning of this year.

Five out of the 11 agencies will abide by the law that makes it illegal to discriminate against gay applicants, even if it goes against their religious beliefs, according to BBC news.

"I think it's iconic of a situation where you've got a clash between sexual orientation rights and religious rights where in almost every circumstance I've been aware of, religious rights have been seen to play second fiddle," complained Mike Judge of the Christian Institute on BBC Radio Five Live.

Catholic Caring Services, one of the agencies that decided to obey the law, has been disowned by the Bishop of Lancaster Patrick O'Donoghue, who is strongly against the new laws.

O'Donoghue explains that the church related agency is no longer able to promote the Catholic "moral teaching that a marital setting is better for children rather than being placed with a same-sex couple."

The Equality Act went into effect in April 2007 in England, Wales and Scotland, and banned discrimination against homosexuals in terms of access to goods and services, including adoption agencies.

Faith-based adoption agencies were given a 21-month exemption from the anti-discrimination law, which expired on Jan. 1, 2009.

When the law was introduced, the Catholic Church had denounced it, arguing that the rights of one group, homosexuals, was given priority over the rights of another, Christians.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, the head of the Catholic Church in England, has pointed out that the new laws threatened the future of hard to place children, which the agencies specialize in.

Besides the five Catholic agencies that will comply with the Equality Act, it is known that one Catholic adoption center will close, and another two are seeking exemption from the law by registering as agencies that work specifically with heterosexual and single people. The decisions of the three remaining agencies were not immediately made known.

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