Tuesday, 30 January 2007

So Much Hypocrisy in the Gay Adoptions Row

Yesterday the Prime Minister announced that faith based adoption agencies would not be given any exemption under the forthcoming Sexual Orientation Regulations. They would however be given 21 months to adapt to the new situation.

The decision has to be welcomed as a victory for fairness. The Regulations are about giving LGB people the same rights as any other citizen, including religious ones. Something which, the Catholic Church should remember, did not happen such a long time ago for its own people.

I am however not sure I understand the need for an adjustment period. It seems to be nothing else but a way to appease the Catholic Church. If, as they claim, they can really not change their minds on the subject of adoption by gay couple what difference are those 21 months going to make? They either go along with the regulations or they don't.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's reaction to the news were most interesting and I thing clearly prove what I was hinting at in my previous post on this. This is not about gay adoption per se but about the Church's loss of influence. The Cardinal complains that a "new morality" was being imposed by the government. There is a clear element of frustration in this about the fact that Christian Churches are not longer in a position to impose their own morality which is being rapidly discarded by most people as obsolete and bigoted.

Murphy-O'Connor is also clearly clutching at straws.

I think normally children should be brought up by a father and a mother and I think that we hold that that is extremely important.

The government has a right to legislate and homosexual couples are also able to adopt in other agencies but we want to hold onto this principle.

This rather confusing (and confused) statement tells us, I think, several things about the rampant hypocrisy displayed by the Christian Churches. First, we are informed that children should be brought up by a father and a mother. Those agencies are however quite happy to let single people adopt, including single gay people. For some unclear reason, they just do not want gay couples to adopt which means that they should be campaigning against gay adoption in general not simply for their own little patch of exemption. However, Murphy-O'Connor has no problem with the idea that gay couple can go to other agencies to adopt.

He was being interviewed on Radio4 this morning where he upped the ante slightly by claiming that other faith based adoption agencies would follow the Catholics' example and wind down their operations. I am a little confused as to which agencies he is talking about. While Anglican archbishops have supported his stance, Anglican adoption agencies seem to have different position on the matter have not signalled in any way that they were preparing to close. Norwood, the only Jewish adoption agency in England, has clearly stated that they welcomed gay couples. Perhaps he is thinking of Muslim agencies. The Muslim Council of Britain unsurprisingly has offered him their support but again we can not be sure of the individual agencies will be doing.

It is good to see that Muslims and Catholics are capable to put the paste behind them over really important issues. Qudos to the LGBT community for being, as ever, such promoter of unity, cohesion and understanding within society.

Another example of hypocrisy comes from the head of the Anglican Church, Rowan Williams, himself. As he publicly voiced his support to Murphy-O'Connor's hateful stance, news emerged of his longstanding friendship with a Welsh gay Anglican priest, the Rev Martin Reynolds, who with his partner has raised a boy with severe behavioural difficulties. I can't imagine how this "longstanding friend" must have felt.

On the subject of hypocrisy, I have to say that I am not sure of what I think about David Cameron's attitude in this matter. The Tories (with the exception of Lord Tebbit and friends who tried to annul the Northern Irish version of the regulations earlier this month) have been incredibly silent during such a strong controversy. Yesterday, Cameron finally came out in favour of the regulations, saying that if no compromise was found he would vote in favour. He also said that he would allow his party a free vote on the issue. Cameron gave the example of a man and his wife being killed in an accident, and argued that it would be perfectly right for the man's gay brother and his partner to adopt the couple's children.

While this is a welcomed position, it feels also very low key and almost as if Cameron had been waiting to see in which direction the wind would blow before speaking out as a way of making as little waves as possible. Presumably quite a few of his party member are not too please with what is happening and while it is cool to appear to support the gays, one would not want to angry the grass-root...

We have won a battle but not the war. The Regulations are likely to be presented to the House of Commons for a vote next month. We have to remain vigilant. I am sure we haven't heard the last.

To read my (growing number of) previous posts on the subject, please click here or on "Sexual Orientation Regulations" in the right hand menu.

1 comment:

  1. Those agencies are however quite happy to let single people adopt, including single gay people. For some unclear reason, they just do not want gay couples to adopt.

    I don't particularly agree with the Church on this issue, but they're being perfectly logical here. If you read Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor's letter to Tony Blair on the subject, you'll see he explains that, in general, the Church thinks children are best brought up by a male and a female parent. However, 'We recognise that some children, particularly those who have suffered abuse and neglect, may well benefit from placement with a single adoptive parent,' in which case they're clearly not particularly bothered about whether the single parent is straight or gay. They're concerned to do what they see as being in the child's best interests.

    They may well be wrong in saying that, all things being equal, it's always better for a child to better to be brought up by a man and a woman than by two men or two women (assuming you've got a sufficiently wide choice of potential adoptive parents, which they clearly think they have) or, in some cases, by a single parent, but given that's their view, the position they take seems logically to follow. They're not saying there's anything wrong with a gay couple bringing up a child, any more than are they -- at least they were when my late wife and I looked at adoption -- that there's anything an older straight couple bringing up a young child ('older', in this sense, being younger than were either of my parents when I was born); they're just saying they think other available options are better.


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