Doctor sacked over gay adoptions reinstated

A Christian paediatrician, dismissed as a medical adviser after refusing to recommend children live with same-sex couples, is to be reinstated.

Sheila Matthews, who sat on an adoption panel in Northamptonshire, lost the job when she asked to abstain from voting in cases where same-sex couples were planning to adopt.

Now she has been reinstated, although Northamptonshire County Council will not allow Dr Matthews to vote on future cases.

Dr Matthews, 50, is a community paediatrician with more than 18 years' experience advising parents and children. She had worked on the adoption panel for five years, before she was removed earlier this month.

Dr Matthews said: "As a professional I have done a lot of reading around the subject and 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. As a Christian and a paediatrician I believe that children do best with a mother and father in a committed, long-term relationship.

"I cannot recommend 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 is in the best interest of the child, then I am not able to vote in favour of such placements."

Andrea Minichiello Williams, from the Christian Legal Centre, who supported the doctor, said: "We are delighted that Sheila Matthews will be able to keep her job as medical adviser, contributing reports and advising on individual cases.

"However, it is entirely unsatisfactory that she is unable to remain a panel member and vote on the adoption panel on cases where placement with a heterosexual couple is the proposed outcome. We are hoping the council will see further sense and allow Dr Matthews to remain a voting panel member, with the freedom to abstain on the rare occasions where placement is proposed with a same-sex couple."

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: "We have told Dr Matthews that the council has no objection to her continuing to provide medical advice to the adoption panel.

"However, we have told Dr Matthews that she cannot continue to act as a full member of the adoption panel with voting rights as she is not fulfilling the full duties of a panel member by refusing to vote on adoption issues regarding same-sex couples."