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24 JUL 2009

Paediatrician removed from adoption panel for refusing to consider gay couples

A Christian paediatrician is to be removed from an adoption panel because she refused to endorse applications by same-sex couples.

Dr Sheila Matthews, who has worked with parents and children for 18 years, was told by Northamptonshire County Council that her beliefs on gay adoption were incompatible with equality legislation and council policies.

Dr Matthews was barred from the panel after asking to abstain from voting when applications from same-sex couples were being decided.

The Head of Children's Services at the Council, Martin Pratt, stated in a letter to Dr Matthews: "There are three concerns that I have: that we have to comply with the law, that we attract the widest possible range of suitable adopters and that we comply with our own policies.

"I believe that we could not allow a panel member to continue to participate in the process who is unable to consider, on the merits of the application alone, applications to adopt."

In a statement, Dr Matthews said: "I don't feel that placing children for adoption with same-sex couples is the best place for them.

"As a Christian, I don't believe it's an appropriate lifestyle and I don't believe the outcomes for children would be as good as if they were placed with heterosexual couples."

Dr Matthews says she is happy to continue providing the panel with unbiased medical reports on other potential adopters. But rather than debate the issue every time the panel considers a same-sex couple's application, Dr Matthews decided it would be better to abstain from the final votes.

Her case has been referred to Paul Diamond, a leading religious rights barrister, and she is backed by the Christian Legal Centre.

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