Christians Assail European Adoption Equality Laws

by Kilian Melloy
Monday Jul 20, 2009

In Europe, churches are assailing laws that provide equality to same-sex parents looking to provide homes to needy children.

One such law, which in England has left church-run adoption charities with the choice of either following the law and refraining from discriminatory placement practices or closing, has come under attack, as have an array of other legal developments around Europe, reported anti-gay Chrisitan Web site LifeSiteNews in a July 17 article.

The site reported that The General Secretaries of the Catholic Episcopal Conferences, which include church officials from both eastern and western Europe, had spoken out against the English anti-discrimination laws, as well as against a case in Italy in which a father asked doctors to remove a feeding tube from his brain-dead daughter.

The Council of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe called the legal situations it was protesting "distant from the culture of life and from the natural model of the family," the Web site reported.

The Council had convened between July 9-July 13 in the Ukraine.

Meantime, a Christian pediatrician in England claims that her religious views on same-sex parents adopting children cost her a spot on a government panel, reported Christian Today in a July 19 article.

The pediatrician, Sr. Sheila Matthews, had been an adviser to the County Council of Northamptonshire for five years, the site reported.

Dr. Matthews was informed in April that the council would not be retaining her services. The article did not expressly say whether this was because Dr. Matthews was opposed to placing needy children with prospective parents of the same gender.

But Dr. Matthews implied that she lost her spot due to her particular brand of Christian belief.

Said Matthews, "Using my professional judgment and having done a lot of reading around the subject, I am satisfied that there are research findings which support my position that a same sex partnership is not the best family setting to bring up children."

Dr. Matthews outlined her position as contradicting that of the council, saying, "Therefore professionally and personally I cannot recommend placement in a same-sex household to be in the best interest of a child, despite what politicians may have legislated for, and as those on the panel have a legal obligation to do what they believe is in the best interests of the child, then I cannot support a recommendation with which I do not agree."

Dr. Matthews added that allowing such adoptions "conflicts with my professional, religious and personal integrity."

The pediatrician went on the make use of the language of civil rights infringement, saying that anti-discrimination laws meant to protect gays and lesbians in the UK were "having the opposite effect" when it came to Christians.

"And devout Christians are suffering the consequences," declared Matthews.

Claimed the pediatrician, "This is not the mark of a free and civilized society where freedom of speech and religion is carefully guarded."

Anti-gay rhetoric has increasingly taken the argument that equality for GLBT citizens will automatically mean that the rights and freedoms of religious people will be eroded.

The Christian Legal Center, to which Dr. Matthews took her case, echoed that argument. The center's director, Andrea Minichiello Williams, was quoted in the article as saying that Matthews is "a well respected professional who holds conscientious views on sexual practice, [is] informed by Christian faith, [and] is being asked to choose between her faith and her job."

Though Christians clamored against the spread of equality for gay and lesbian families, domestic freedoms are only growing more commonplace on the international scene. In Finland, reported YLE Uutiset in a July 8 article, same-sex families--mostly lesbians--have rushed to avail themselves of new legislation that permits Finnish same-sex couples to adopt Finnish children in need of stable, loving home environments.

Though the new law does not take effect until September, registered same-sex families are getting the process started early, the article reported.

That's just as well, since a non-governmental organization that advocates for the welfare of children in need of homes, Save the Children Finland, has told prospective adoptive parents that it might take a year for the process to be completed.

The law, which was passed in May, was primarily intended to allow for second-parent adoption, the article noted, which allows children greater security.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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