An evangelical Christian couple in Alberta, Canada, has taken the provincial government to court, charging that they were denied the right to adopt a child because of their conviction that homosexual behavior is a sin.
As reported by Canada's National Post, the unnamed couple said that they had initially received a recommendation to adopt, with a Catholic Social Services worker whom the couple had worked with saying in her report that she was “pleased” to recommend them for adoption. The report noted that the couple was employed, owned their own home, and had a happy and healthy family and community network. The couple's hope was to adopt a child, or up to three siblings between the ages of seven and 17.
However, the report also recommended that a “homosexual child” not be placed with the couple, because of their religious opposition to that lifestyle. That information prompted the Alberta Child and Family Services department to put the brakes on the couple's application, and to call for further home study.
According to Canada's Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a conservative legal organization that is representing the couple, when it was found that the couple were evangelical Christians with biblical views on marriage and sexuality, the door for adoption quickly closed on them.
In March 2017, Catholic Social Services advised the couple “that it was reversing its recommendation that they be approved for adoption,” related the Justice Centre in a press release on the case. “The rejection letter enclosed a revised Home Study Report that stated the couple should not be approved as adoptive parents because they would be unable to 'help' a child who 'has sexual identity issues.' The rejection letter did not explain how or why the couple would be unable to 'help' a child that they valued, loved and respected. The couple asked Catholic Social Services to reconsider their decision, but were refused.”
During a follow-up meeting with officials from Alberta's Child and Family Services office, a caseworker explained to the couple that Child and Family Services considered their religious beliefs regarding sexuality to be a “rejection” of children with LGBT sexual identities. At the meeting the couple was informed that the denial of their application was final.
“I was angry at the injustice of the situation,” the wife stated in a court affidavit. “Despite our stability, our kindness, our dedication to helping people, despite our willingness to take a child in who needed parents, and consider him or her our own for the rest of our lives, we were being discriminated against based on our religious beliefs.”
John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre, said that “making determinations about who is suitable to adopt on the basis of their sincere religious beliefs violates this couple’s right to religious freedom and equality under the law as guaranteed in the [Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms] and in Alberta’s own Bill of Rights and Human Rights Act.”
He added that if not successfully challenged, “this decision would have grave consequences for the freedoms of all Canadians, not to mention adverse consequences for the many children who will never be adopted if the government continues with this discrimination.”
The Justice Centre is seeking a court declaration that the decision by Alberta's Child and Family Services to deny adoption for the couple is “unreasonable and void by virtue of arbitrariness, bias, bad faith, as well as breaches of procedural fairness and natural justice.” The Centre is also seeking a court order to approve the couple as adoptive parents.