Diversity Rules, OK?

Online comments on the recent case in which a Pentecostal couple were rejected as foster-parents tend to degenerate into the usual slanging matches over homophobia. But what the judges’ ruling seems to concern is not homosexual orientation as such, but equality and diversity legislation. They cite regulations to ensure that children “are provided with foster care services which value diversity and promote equality”. This is considerably more open-ended than the question of harming sexually confused children.

Mr and Mrs Johns themselves insisted that they would love any child unconditionally, but would not consent to endorse the homosexual lifestyle. They also pointed at that the issue was scarcely likely to arise in the children of 5-8 whom they were applying to foster. Social Services countered that such a child might have a homosexual brother. So we can already see that the question has broadened out from “abuse of a gay child” to “the possibility of a child’s being induced to abuse other children by not positively promoting their lifestyle.”

If one takes this judgement to be correct, then many things (and cases) could (and ought to) follow. For a start, if foster children can be turned into such antisocial monsters by parents who won’t endorse homosexual lifestyles, then it is inconsistent to allow such people to have contact with children as teachers, carers or, most importantly, as parents. In the latter case the degree of influence is such that even “refusal to endorse” is too lax. Prospective parents ought to be screened for any internal criticism of such lifestyles, and children removed if such tendencies are discovered. That might require taking into account their association with homophobic institutions such as churches or rugby clubs. We are, after all, talking about fundamental human rights – I mean, of course, the rights of those who might conceivably be harmed by the potentially bigoted children allowed to develop from such parenting.

It is also inconsistent to restrict this judgement to homosexuality, since lifestyle, and not gender identity, is the focus of the case. Equality and diversity are the issue. So logically, the judgement should apply to the disapproval of any lifestyle that is legal, and therefore by definition acceptable. Most broadly, this should mean that any parent who does not promote cohabitation as equally desirable to marriage should be disqualified. One dreads to think of the harm a child in that situation could do to his classmates from single-parent families. It goes without saying that the publishing of research suggesting any difference in value between these lifestyles is inherently discriminatory, and therefore illegal under human rights legislation. After all truth, as the Johns case shows, is defined by equality legislation.

But the law would apply equally to, say, a gay couple who refused to tell their children that cottaging is an equally valid lifestyle to a stable long-term partnership. Or to any parents who mentioned, in other than a favourable light, prostitution, swinging, one-night stands, SM, and all those other completely legal activities that make up the diversity we celebrate in this wonderful nation of ours.

This judgement must surely pave the way for a rapid transition to the situation I have outlined. Otherwise it might be seen as applying only to Christian couples with moral scruples – and religious discrimination, as we all know, is illegal.

Jon Garvey

About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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