YOUR feature on gay Scots telling of discrimination in the provision of public services (News, 26 February) is timely, coming as it does hot on the heels of the bizarre and politically motivated decision by the Scottish Charity Appeals Panel (SCAP) to overturn two previous correct rulings by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and so permit the Catholic St Margaret’s adoption agency to continue to discriminate against gay couples seeking to adopt.
The Scottish Government makes the usual brazen claims about its record on equality being second to none, yet we know that one of its ministers, Fiona Hyslop MSP, is on record as stating she would be happy for Catholic adoption charities to discriminate against gay couples as long as there were other adoption services who didn’t, while Mike Russell MSP stated that he wanted a solution whereby St Margaret’s could continue to operate. Both these ministers have stayed silent on the unlawful discrimination that their agency, SCAP, has dismissed as irrelevant in overturning the regulator’s findings.
In turning the results of the YouGov survey into policy objectives, the first action taken by the Scottish Government should be to examine the workings of the Scottish Charity Appeals Panel to determine its fitness for purpose. It should then stand by the two original and correct decisions by the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator that St Margaret’s is breaking both equality law and charity law and instruct it to cease this discrimination forthwith.
The Scottish Government’s first priority should be to ensure the pool of adoptive parents in Scotland is as large as possible so to provide loving homes for children currently in care. The decision by its agency on St Margaret’s is not motivated by this first priority. One wonders if a decision to allow a registered charity to practise similar discrimination against Catholics would have met with such hearty approval from both the Scottish Government and the Scottish Catholic Church.
Alistair McBay, National Secular Society, Edinburgh