Leading article: No exceptions, no exemptions

Share

The issue of gay adoption is one of the forward outposts of the struggle for equal rights in this country. Great advances have been made in the past 10 years, after a 30-year pause following the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in 1967. There may be a tendency among some parts of progressive opinion to think that the struggle has been largely won, that social attitudes are changing surprisingly quickly, and that there can be no harm in a bit of "pragmatism" at this stage in order to maintain a consensus behind the next set of reforms.

These reforms are contained in last year's Equality Act, which comes into effect this year. Until now, the most controversial provisions have been those that require the providers of accommodation, including bed-and-breakfasts, to treat gay couples in the same way as straight ones. Those, however, have been agreed and will come into force despite the threat by some B&B owners to defy the law or to close their doors.

What remains to be decided in the detailed regulations that give effect to the law is the matter of gay adoption. Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Communities, supported by the Prime Minister, wants to exempt Roman Catholic adoption agencies from the requirement to treat gay and straight couples equally. Ms Kelly's spokeswoman describes this as "the pragmatic way forward". It could just as well be described as "the coward's way out", which is paradoxical, given Tony Blair's lectures to his colleagues on the need to take difficult decisions that may not always be popular in the short term.

We agree with Angela Eagle, the Labour MP, who describes the Kelly/Blair position as being like "telling Rosa Parks to wait for the fully integrated bus coming behind".

As Joan Smith argues on the opposite page, Ms Kelly's Catholicism and Mr Blair's Catholicism-by-marriage are not merely interesting as a matter of social observation. They are relevant if they influence the making of public policy, because this is a policy that should be decided on the quality of the arguments for and against. It would seem that the Catholic bishops have persuaded Ms Kelly and Mr Blair that there is a "pragmatic" consideration that outweighs the simple principle of equality. Roman Catholic families are good adopters, it is said, because the opposition of the church to abortion goes together with its promotion of a duty to adopt. But are Catholics going to cease to be good adopters just because their bishops have closed down the Catholic adoption agencies as a form of political protest? We do not believe so.

And there is a "pragmatic" argument on the other side. Gay couples are good adopters too. Of course, there are potential problems for the children brought up in unconventional families, but these are as nothing to the problems of children brought up in care homes. What is more, many of these problems arise from traditional attitudes to gay people, and would be diminished by the spread of tolerance.

We believe, unlike Mr Blair and Ms Kelly, that social acceptance of full equality for gay people will be furthered by brave changes that enshrine that principle in the law - with no exceptions.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Gold Ferrari sits outside Chanel on Sloane Street  

Sunday Times Rich List: We are no longer in thrall to very rich people

Terence Blacker
David Cameron was openly emotional at the prospect of Scotland leaving the union before the referendum  

Remember when David Cameron almost cried over Scotland because he loved it so much?

Matthew Norman
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence