Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Apparently equal rights ARE special rights.

Recently passed gay rights legislation in the UK is being threatened by Catholic adoption agencies' refusal to comply with the new laws. They claim that the legislation will 'force' their agencies to close, although the reality is slightly different. What they're actually saying is that if the law does not include a special loophole just for them, they will close their adoption agencies - who place around 3 or 4% of children a year, and say that they deal with some of the most hard-to-place children with no clear evidence to support this - rather than run the risk of placing a child with same-sex parents.

Today's Guardian says that "Mr Blair and Ms Kelly are trying to broker a deal that could include a transition period for Catholic agencies, or the merger of Catholic and non-Catholic agencies. The Department for Education and Skills believes it can fill the gap if the Catholic agencies disband." This would be the most positive outcome for me, and I've got my fingers crossed for it, but the lack of reaction to homophobic outcry demeans the much-needed legislation that the same PM has just passed. Some MPs have been more vocal, including gay Labour MP (and former Anglican vicar - godess, I love my party) Chris Bryant, who argues that the majority of Catholics wouldn't support the closing of adoption agencies due to rampant homophobia. This even seems to be borne out by that political litmus test, the BBC's Have Your Say website, a current affairs forum that generaly appears to be populated by conspiracy theorists and Daily Mail readers, and is thus the bane of my existence.

Personally, I don't want religious organisations involved in adoption any more than I want them involved in education, and I certainly don't want them involved in politics to the level they are now. And putting a child with gay parents isn't going to make them gay themselves - most if not all of the gay people I know were raised by straight couples (my mother's adolescent crush on her hockey teacher not withstanding). Linked to that is the tired old heteronormative assumption that the default setting for the human race is gay - by the law of averages, some of the children placed with gay couples will be gay and will benefit from such a positive and state-sanctioned environment, or some of their friends might be and will have positive queer role models in a functioning family relationship.

Families are important. I don't care how you define them, the important thing is that they form a solid basis of love and support for their child's life, and beyond that it doesn't matter what combination of sex or gender is involved. If that sounds like a cliche, it's because it is - we shouldn't even need to have this debate, and if one of the most important things that Blair will have done in his last few months in office is watered down by his insistence on bending to the will of the religious right, I am going to be seriously disgusted.

10 Comments:

At 10:47 AM, Anonymous lism. said...

If only religion hadn't had to have got involved in adoption from the outset: I read in the Scotsman yesterday that the majority of "difficult" children are placed from Catholic care homes, which immediately makes me think that these kids are going to be the first people to suffer if the Catholic Church does the selfish thing and shuts these homes as a statement. But you're right - if they do, I can't imagine anyone will miss them. Taking care of and placing these vulnerable children should have been the state's responsibility from the start. Religious groups shouldn't have had to get involved.

I can't see society standing for this one. What next: let's not allow a married Muslim couple to adopt a Catholic baby because they won't bring them up in the One True Faith?? It's ludicrous when there are so many children desperate for loving homes that parents who could provide a wonderful upbringing are being denied the right to do so. This legislation is a must, on so many levels.

 
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