After section 9

Part of Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 10:30 am on 7th December 2006.

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Photo of Kenneth Macintosh Kenneth Macintosh Labour 10:30 am, 7th December 2006

I am uneasy about some of the debate that we have had about amendment 86. I remind members that the bill is not a gay rights bill or a bill about married or unmarried parents, but a children and families bill. I say without hesitation that I will reject some of Roseanna Cunningham's later amendments, because I regard them as anti-gay.

It is clear that some members also see amendment 86 as discriminatory, which is unfortunate, to say the least. I for one would not vote for something that I saw as discriminatory. It is interesting—and, I hope, reassuring—to note Margaret Smith's comment that not only do we already have strong anti-discrimination legislation in this country, but further measures to reinforce the law are being pursued at Westminster. In other words, the provision proposed in amendment 86 will not be able to be used to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of their sexuality or marital status. On the contrary, the provision is worded in positive rather than negative language. It does not say what an adoption agency cannot do, but what it should do to assist anyone who comes forward as a potential adopter.

Does anyone here seriously question the excellent work carried out by faith-based adoption agencies? As my colleague Wendy Alexander pointed out at stage 2, we do not have enough voluntary sector adoption agencies as it is.

I will finish by drawing parallels. I regard faith-based adoption agencies in a similar way to how I regard denominational schools. It is important for the huge number of people in this country for whom faith is core to their values and upbringing that they have access to an adoption agency that reflects that faith. A parallel approach—this reflects my support for amendment 86—is positive action rather than positive discrimination. The amendment does not discriminate against anyone, but positively supports those who value their religious faith.