Monday, December 27, 2010

[Australia - New South Wales] - Sydney Morning Herald - "Gays can still foster kids, DoCS says" by AAP


A NSW government department says there are plenty of opportunities for same sex couples to foster children, despite a recent ruling allowing religious charities to ban gays from becoming foster parents.

A gay couple began a legal battle seven years ago with Wesley Mission Australia, which refused to allow them to become foster parents.

However, the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal found in favour of the Wesley Mission earlier this month.

The tribunal found that the mission was exempt from the NSW Anti Discrimination Act on religious grounds.

But a statement from the Department of Community Services (DoCS) should g]ve the gay couple hope, as it makes clear that the department accepts gay couples as foster parents.

"Community Service foster carers can be single, married in a de facto or same sex relationship," the statement read.

DoCS puts its emphasis on the need for foster carers to provide "a safe, nurturing and secure family environment" and states that anyone in good physical and emotional health can apply to become a foster carer.

The case involving the Wesley Mission dates back to 2002 when the two gay men lodged a complaint under the Anti Discrimination Act after an agency operated by the mission refused to allow them to foster a child.

The Administrative Decisions Tribunal initially found in favour of the men in 2007 and awarded them $5,000 each.

But the Wesley Mission appealed and a review panel overturned the decision, ruling that the tribunal had erred in deciding the mission did not have a right to discriminate on religious grounds.

The panel sent the case back to the tribunal, which decided earlier this month in favour of the Wesley Mission, and dismissed the complaint of discrimination.

An affidavit supplied to the tribunal by the Wesley Mission, which follows the Methodist doctrines of the 18th-century preacher John Wesley, says: "The Methodist doctrine is based on the belief that God's pattern for family relationships includes a union between a man and a woman.

"For Wesley Mission to appoint homosexual couples as foster carers would be fundamentally unacceptable to the Methodist doctrine and would be viewed as an abdication of its responsibility to uphold the word of God as understood by Methodism."

The Wesley Mission is a parish of the Uniting Church, but the church allows its parishes to make their own decisions on matters involving homosexuality.

[Source: Original Article]


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