A life with my Dad and Daddy – Josephine Rust
Josephine Rust tackles LGBT adoption
Recently a Catholic adoption agency won the right to be exempted from legislation which would have forced it to consider homosexual couples as parents. Catholic Care, which serves the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough, and Hallam in South Yorkshire, claimed it would be forced to stop its work finding homes for children if it had to comply with the legislation. Other Catholic adoption agencies have either given up adoption or severed their ties with the Church because of the rules, which were introduced in 2007. Mr Justice Briggs, sitting at the High Court in London, allowed the society’s appeal and ordered the commission to reconsider its case. The verdict was welcomed by Catholic Church authorities, but was met with dismay by gay-rights campaigners and secular groups.
The Bishop of Leeds, the Right Rev Arthur Roche, said outside the court: “Our case has not been brought on an anti-gay agenda of any sort. We respect, and would not want to diminish, the dignity of any person.” But Jonathan Finney, the head of external affairs at Stonewall, the gay-rights charity, condemned the judgment: “It’s unthinkable that anyone engaged in delivering any kind of public or publicly funded service should be given licence to pick and choose service users on the basis of individual prejudice.
Even more recently David Cameron’s new Equalities Minister Theresa May was challenged about her voting record on gay rights on BBC One’s Question Time. She voted against gay adoption in 2002 and against the repeal of Section 28 – the law which banned councils from “promoting” homosexuality – in 2000. Challenged by an audience member, Mrs May said: “If those votes were today, yes, I have changed my view and I think I would take a different vote.” She added: “On gay adoption I have changed my mind… because I have been persuaded that when you are looking at the future for a child, I think it’s better for a child who is perhaps in an institutional environment, if they have an opportunity of being in a stable, family environment – be that a heterosexual couple or a gay couple – then I think it’s more important that that child is in that stable and loving environment and I have genuinely changed my mind on that.”
Adoption of children by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people is an issue that is gaining prominence in ethical discourse. Supporters of LGBT adoption suggest that many children are in need of homes and claim that since parenting ability is unrelated to sexual orientation, the law should allow them to adopt children. Opponents, on the other hand, suggest that the alleged greater prevalence of depression, drug use, promiscuity and suicide among homosexuals (and alleged greater prevalence of domestic violence) might affect children or that the absence of male and female role models could cause maladjustment.
However, it seems to me that the existing body of research fails to consider the specific cases of adoption: it tends to look more generally at the issue of LGBT parenting rather than adoption and, where adoption is noted, it does not distinguish between adopted children who are parented by unrelated gay persons and those who retain their original family relationships in step-parent households.
I can honestly say from personal experience that when it comes to adoption, the issue should never be about someone’s sexual orientation, but their capacity and ability to provide a loving and stable environment in which to raise a child. If they can raise a child to be happy and appreciative and all that comes in-between, then they are doing nothing differently from that of heterosexual couples. Nowadays in our fast paced metropolitan life, sexuality is something that is embraced, understood and loved and as long as we maintain that capacity for love everyone should have an equal opportunity at raising a child.