Exemptions for Catholic adoption agencies

I felt sorry for Ruth Kelly over her child’s schooling furore – just because Labour aim for state education to be the equal of private doesn’t mean it actually is, or that somebody should support it at the expense of their child, imho – but trying to get Catholic adoption agencies excluded from anti-discrimination laws is just appalling. They’d rather close down than place children with same-sex couples? These people are charged with looking after children – how dare they behave like that! Can you imagine their reaction if an adoption agency refused to give children to Catholic families1? There’s no basis for their argument other than scripture, and that’s no way to decide anything.

It’s blackmail, and puts the government into a horrible position. It’s all very well my and other secularists saying that in the long term it’s better for everyone, as well as being morally correct, but that doesn’t help the kids in the system now who would be negatively impacted. It’s hard to believe that the Catholic Church’s apparent obsession with harmless sex trumps their concern for children’s welfare, but if they follow through with the threats it seems to be a logical conclusion. Ophelia and Antonia are worth reading. Harry’s Place have a piece on a Muslim police officer refusing to have body contact with male colleagues that touches on similar issues:

People must realise that while it is fine to hold beliefs that restrict their behaviour, it is not up to the rest of society to accom[m]odate those self-imposed restrictions. If you want to limit your range of action and interaction, then you have to accept that [there] are consequences for yourself that you cannot transfer to other people.

Quite. I’m always intrigued by the dividing line. If I, as a Pastafarian, demand to converse only in pirate-speak, I’d obviously get kicked out of the police without a moment’s hesitation. But how many people do I need to convert before I go from raving loon to man with beliefs deserving of respect2? Hundreds? Thousands?

Happily, the press reports seem to indicate that the rest of the Cabinet are sensible enough to reject the exemptions. Do you think that twenty years from now we’ll have trouble believing his debate ever happened?

  1. on the basis that it’s bad for the children to be exposed to insane views on homosexuality, presumably. Hmmm. Interesting. []
  2. in the eyes of a hundred Comment Is Free columnists, anyway []