An anti-gay Christian couple have lost a landmark High Court battle over the right to become foster carers after admitting that their faith made them morally opposed to homosexuality.
Eunice and Owen Johns, both in their 60s, from Derby, went to court after a social worker expressed concerns over their views on homosexuality.
The couple had applied to be to be respite carers but said they could not tell a child a “homosexual lifestyle” was acceptable.
Mrs Johns said in November: “The council said: ‘Do you know, you would have to tell [children] that it’s OK to be homosexual?’
“But I said I couldn’t do that because my Christian beliefs won’t let me. Morally, I couldn’t do that. Spiritually I couldn’t do that.”
In 2007, the couple were told by the city council that a fostering panel had rejected them because of their views.
The Johns then applied to the High Court to clarify policies on foster parents who have “traditional” views on sexuality.
They asked judges to rule that their faith should not be a bar to them becoming foster carers, and the law should protect their Christian values.
However, in a landmark ruling, Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson ruled that laws protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation “should take precedence” over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds.
Outside the courtroom today, Mrs Johns said: “We are extremely distressed at what the judges have ruled today.
“All we wanted was to offer a loving home to a child in need. We have a good track record as foster parents. But because we are Christians, with mainstream Christian views on sexual ethics, we are apparently unsuitable as foster parents.”
However, Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity, was delighted with the decision, saying:
“Thankfully, Mr and Mrs Johns’s out-dated views aren’t just out of step with the majority of people in modern Britain, but those of many Christians too. If you wish to be involved in the delivery of a public service you should be prepared to provide it fairly to anyone.”
The Christian Legal Centre has backed the Johns and claims that “fostering by Christians is now in
doubt” saying that the judge had effectively ruled “homosexual ‘rights’
trump freedom of conscience in the UK”.