The charity Catholic Care, which recently lost its third legal bid for permission to prevent gay couples from using its adoption service, has applied for another appeal against the decision.
The Leeds-based social care charity asked the charity tribunal in October to quash a ruling by the Charity Commission that it could not change its objects to exclude gay couples. After a two-day hearing in March, the tribunal ruled in April that the commission's ruling should stand.
The tribunal has now confirmed that Catholic Care has applied for an appeal against the decision to the Upper Tribunal. If the appeal is granted, it will be the charity's fourth appeal.
The charity, which facilitates about five adoptions a year, argues that if it does not exclude same-sex couples it will have to close its adoption service because its supporters would stop donating money. It says the Equality Act 2010 allows discrimination on the grounds of sexuality if this is "a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim".
In 2008, the charity was refused permission by the Charity Commission to change its objects so that its service would be restricted to heterosexual couples. It appealed to the charity tribunal in 2009, which upheld the commission's decision. In 2010, Catholic Care won a partial victory, when the High Court ruled that the commission must reconsider its verdict. But later that year the commission reaffirmed its original decision.
The appeal to the tribunal that was heard in March was against the commission's reaffirmation of its original verdict.
In its April judgement that the commission's decision should stand, the charity tribunal said Catholic Care had not yet explored all the alternatives to closure, and said that expert evidence contradicted the charity's argument that, if it were to close, fewer children would be adopted.