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Wednesday, July 28, 1999 Published at 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK


Church charity backs gay adoptions

The charity says it puts children's needs first

A children's charity with close links to the Church of England has lifted its ban on gay and lesbian couples adopting or fostering children.

The BBC's Linda Duffin: "A society spokesman said the decision would bring it into line with recent legal rulings"
Chief Executive Ian Sparks said the society's "prime consideration" would be "finding the carer that best meets the needs of the individual child".

But he said it still supported the "Christian ideal that every child should be brought up in a loving family with a mother and a father".

"The society will be following guidance set out by the Department of Health stating 'it would be wrong arbitrarily to exclude any particular group of people from consideration'," he said.

[ image: Archbishop of Canterbury says he
Archbishop of Canterbury says he "would have taken a different approach"
The decision is likely to anger some Anglicans who take a strict line against homosexuality.

A statement on behalf of the Archbishops of Canterbury, York and Wales, who are the presidents of the society, said: "The practical implications of the decision will be very limited.

"It does nothing to vary our belief that a partnership in marriage between a man and a woman is most likely to provide an environment in which young people find security and support."

The archbishops would continue to support "the excellent work of the society with many thousands of young people", the statement added.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, is said to be displeased with the decision. He has made clear his support for the church's traditional teachings on homosexuality.

A Church of England spokesman told BBC News Online: "The Archbishops said their approach would have been different, but recognised that it was up to the charity's trustees to make their own decision."

[ image: The charity has a £27m budget to help children in need]
The charity has a £27m budget to help children in need
Julian Brazier, president of the Conservative Family Campaign and the Conservative MP for Canterbury, felt the decision was "very sad".

He said: "The evidence from all the major statistical-based studies that have been done on the impact on children is that children do best if they are looked after by a married couple, whether or not they are blood relations."

Mr Sparks added that adoption and fostering were now a "very small part" of the society's work. He said that of the 22,000 children and young people it works with annually, last year only five were placed for adoption and 11 for fostering.

The charity was founded in 1881 and has a £27m budget to help children in need.

Low adoption figures

Government figures released in April revealed that thousands of children in need of adoption are being left in care by local authorities.

The nationwide survey by House of Commons officials said there are about 51,000 young people in care, but only 3.92% of them were adopted in 1997.

But adoption agencies said the figures do not show that many of the children are only in temporary care, and that the intention would be to return them to their own families rather than offer them for adoption.

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