Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Third Sector reports (free registration required) that the Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) has lost its appeal of a UK Charity Commission decision refusing the charity's request to amend its objects so as to limit adoption services to heterosexual parents under an exemption to the UK Equalities Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations. The Charity Tribunal, a recently created body for hearing appeals from Charity Commission decisions, issued the decision rejecting the appeal. The Charity Commission decision also applied to the Father Hudson's Society, but that charity chose to withdraw its appeal. The decision appears to turn on a technical reading of the applicable regulations, and specifically whether the "adoption services" to be provided by the charity were "pure charitable activity" and so within the exemption, or went beyond that limited category and so were not within the exemption. The Tribunal found the latter to be the case. Because its decision meant that the discrimination was unlawful, the Tribunal appeared to avoid ruling on whether such discrimination would still be contrary to the "public benefit" requirement for UK charities even if such discrimination was not unlawful.