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

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Hang on – that’s not how it’s supposed to be written

Guy Keleny
Rafael Nadal is down and out, beaten by Dustin Brown at Wimbledon – but an era is not thereby ended  

Sad as it is, Rafael Nadal's decline does not mark the end of tennis's golden era

Tom Peck
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test