23 March 2018
The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (the ‘OSCR’) reviewed the practices of St Margaret’s Children and Family Care Society in January of last year and found it to be breaching the Equality Act 2010. The OSCR judged that it gave greater priority to prospective adoptive parents who were a couple, Catholic, married for at least two years and who wished to adopt within the framework of the Catholic faith. The OSCR concluded that St Margaret’s was engaging in discrimination given its refusal to place children with same-sex couples.
However, the Scottish Charity Appeals Panel (‘SCPAB’) has overturned this decision. SCPAB has concluded that St Margaret’s attracts the charity exemption pursuant to section 193 of the Equality Act and that the indirect discrimination is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim: “to be a faith based organisation and to manifest that faith inter alia in an adoption service and to ensure that Catholic adoption is available to Catholic children”.