Charity takes gay adoption case onward to High Court

Catholic Care prepares for next stage of legal battle with Charity Commission

The Catholic adoption agency that was told by both the Charity Commission and the Charity Tribunal that it could not restrict its services to heterosexual parents will take its case to the High Court.

The tribunal granted permission for the appeal by Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) earlier this month (Third Sector Online, 8 July), but the charity was unsure at the time whether it would go ahead.

Mark Wiggin, chief executive of Catholic Care, told Third Sector the charity would pursue the appeal, but he was unable to give any details about how the case would be funded. Taking the case to the Charity Tribunal cost the charity about £75,000 (16 June, page 1).

Catholic Care believes a section of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 allows charities to discriminate against some sexual orientations if it is stipulated in their constitutions. But last November the commission refused to let it change its objects accordingly, prompting an appeal to the tribunal in December (11 December 2008, page 3).

In a preliminary ruling in March this year, the tribunal rejected the reasoning behind the commission's decision (Third Sector Online, 16 March). But the tribunal upheld that decision for different reasons in a final judgement issued on 1 June (Third Sector Online, 2 June).

The High Court will consider only whether the tribunal correctly interpreted the relevant section of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations. Other grounds for the appeal submitted by Catholic Care were rejected by the tribunal.

The Charity Commission is still considering whether to pursue an appeal against the tribunal's preliminary verdict.

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