Christian couples could be stopped from adopting or fostering children because of controversial new laws to introduce gay marriage, MSPs have been warned.
Measures aimed at safeguarding the rights of religious couples who want to adopt were rejected by MSPs at Holyrood today.
The Scottish Government insists that a couples’ views on marriage alone cannot stop them from adopting.
Nationalist MSP Richard Lyle told MSPs today he adopted a daughter 31 years ago and he receieved weekly visists from social workers before being approved. But he warned Holyrood’s Equal Opportunities committee that the Same Sex Marriage Bill currently going through Parliament could prevent this.
“Should same sex marriage become law there would be a danger that adopters or foster carers could be wrongly deemed homophobic if they reveal their opposition to same sex marriage,” Mr Lyle said.
The Government is proposing to issue new guidelines to fostering agencies to avoid this, but Mr Lyle said it “doesn’t go far enough.”
“This needs to be enshrined in law, not just detailed in a letter to agencies,” the MSP added.
“It would be a terrrible injustice if otherwise suitable foster carers or adopters were turned down because of their views on marriage.
“Childless couples who wish to adopt, who go through various emotional concerns, are very worried about this bill. I beieve that we should aleviate their fears.”
He proposed a change in the legislation to include a clause stating that the views on the nature of marriage cannot be taken into account when approving prospective foster carers or adopters.
Nationalist John Mason warned that rejecting the ammendment would send out the message that “it would be accepteable to discriminate against, for example, Christian parents who have traditional views and they could be stopped from adopting or fostering.”
But health minister Alex Neil told MSPs it is “already the case” that a couple’s view on marriage cannot be taken into account when they are
considered for adoption.
“What’s important is the welfare of the child, that’s absolutely central,” he added.
“Potential foster carers and adopters are assessed on their ability to provide a safe, loving nurturing home enviornment for children. This
has always been the case and will continue to to be the case.”
Mr Lyle’s ammendment was voted down 4-3 by the committee.