Britain’s Derby Council has defended banning a self-avowed devout Christian couple from providing further foster care to children because of the couple’s anti-gay views, with a member of the council revealing in a BBC interview that the husband had said he would try and “turn” a gay child.
From the BBC:
Derby couple Mr and Mrs Johns, aged 62 and 65, applied to the council to offer respite foster care in 2007.
The couple were then asked by a social worker if they were prepared to talk to a child who might be gay in way that promoted diversity.
“I’m a Bible-believing Christian,” said Mrs Johns. “I’ve got nothing against homosexuals. I just don’t believe in the act because my Bible tells me two men lying together [is] an abomination.”
The council said that in this assessment Mr Johns said he would try to “turn the child”. Mr Johns said he could not remember making this statement.
Derby City Council’s director of specialist services, Katie Harris, said that Mr Johns did in fact make that statement, telling BBC Radio 4′s The Report: “If it had come out that we had approved somebody who had been caring for a child… and they had actually been found to be putting into practice what Mr Johns had described about ‘turning a child’, we would have been in great difficulty as the authority charged with caring for that child.”
Further, she rejected the claim that Derby Council was penalizing religious couples, saying instead that it was the Johns’ specific beliefs about gay people and in turn gay children that had caused concern.
She also said that Derby Council could have in fact approved the couple and then never used them, but while this would have been easier and would likely have avoided any court battle, it would have been a waste of resources.
The couple’s lawyers, the Christian Legal Centre, have abandoned plans at a legal appeal saying that due to equality laws it would likely be fruitless. They have, however, said that this is another case where gay rights have been given weight over religious rights. They have not, however, commented on the child welfare aspect.
Mr and Mrs Johns have started a petition targeted at Prime Minister David Cameron asking that he overturn equality laws that they say penalize religious freedom of speech.
Mr Cameron, while not having spoken about the Johns’ request for political intervention, said shortly after the ruling in favor of Derby Council that he believes the High Court had settled the case, commenting: “This matter was decided by a court in the appropriate way and I think we should rest with the judgment that was made.”
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