My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who has brought the UNICEF debate on the well-being of children right back home, into our own backyard. In that context, I propose to follow him with the question of adoption and to treat it with reason, as distinct from faith.
The reasoning is that which was before your Lordships on
The point made and taken so well by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham was: what is needed by the child? He said that in any sort of family there was love, support, fair treatment, and so forth. It does not appear to have been appreciated, as was said by the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, on
Why should there be any justification for discrimination against the Catholic agencies? The whole process of adoption is perfectly sound. The application for an adoption order is afforded to anyone, rich or poor, of whatever faith—or none—ethnic origin or sexual orientation. It comes before a court, which is a lay tribunal, and is subject to appeal.
The adopters are assisted by the adoption agencies, but there is a total service for homosexual couples. If they cannot go to an agency direct, as we have heard from my noble friend Lady Morris, they are transferred. The point is that the services are available. So if they are available and are satisfactorily rendered—and nobody has said they are not—what is the justification for this discrimination?
If this matter were to come before our courts, it could well be read down because it failed to take due account of the balance of the relevant articles of the ECHR and constituted unjustified means to an unacceptable end. In those circumstances, it would be a good idea if reconsideration were given to the way in which these matters were dealt with on