A British couple lost their right to foster care in court earlier this week, after they told a social worker that they could not tell a child that a “homosexual lifestyle” was acceptable. They said that the belief was grounded in their Christian faith, and asked the court to verify that their religious beliefs should not bar them from caring for foster children. The court, however, said that laws protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation should take precedence over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds.
The couple have already fostered 15 children, and have in the past been praised by social workers as “kind and hospitable” people who “respond sensitively” to childrens’ needs. Their views on homosexuality, however, are problematic to say the least; they believe that homosexuality is “against God’s law and morals,” but also say that they are not homophobic.
Social workers had raised concerns that the couple’s values would conflict with new regulations about discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In a statement, the wife, Eunice Johns, said, “This is a sad day for Christianity. The judges have suggested that our views might harm children. We do not believe that this is so. We are prepared to love and accept any child. All we were not willing to do was tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing.”
This is, to say the least, a surprising and groundbreaking ruling. Although it’s entirely possible that the couple might have been good foster parents, the fact is, even small children should be legally protected from homophobic perspectives, especially during their formative years. And although the husband, Owen Johns, claimed that the children they’ve fostered “want to play, not talk about sexuality,” children are extremely sensitive to attitudes like these, and even a chance negative comment about homosexuality can be traumatic and lasting.
In this sense, the children deserve protection before the couple. And the British court ruled bravely to prevent children from being exposed to damaging views.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.