The Charity Commission has ruled a UK adoption agency's bar on helping gay couples is unlawful.
Leeds-based Catholic Care argued it was exempt from regulations on sexual orientation discrimination on religious grounds. It also claimed that Catholic donations would dry up if it helped facilitate gay adoption.
However, the Charity Commission found there could be no justification for barring gay and lesbian parents. Its Chief Executive Andrew Hind said: "In certain circumstances, it is not against the law for charities to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. However, because the prohibition on such discrimination is a fundamental principle of human rights law, such discrimination can only be permitted in the most compelling circumstances.
"We have concluded that in this case the reasons Catholic Care have set out do not justify their wish to discriminate."
The Catholic Church has fought hard to secure an exemption from UK equality legislation for adoption agencies. Last February, Pope Benedict XVI criticised the government for creating "limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs".
He said: "The effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed."
The pope will visit the UK next month to present these objections to UK politicians, including David Cameron, Nick Clegg, and Harriet Harman, in person.
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