The Court of Appeal held that a fostering and adoption charity had not shown justification for requiring carers to abstain from homosexual activity.
The case concerned a charity whose aim was to recruit evangelical Christians to foster or adopt children. Recruits were expected to sign a statement of beliefs and abstain from ‘homosexual behaviour’.
Under an exception in the EqA this was not unlawful religious discrimination. The Court of Appeal held that nevertheless it was unlawful direct discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.
The Court of Appeal rejected an argument that Cornerstone could rely on a charity exception in EqA s.193(1)(2). This provision required it to show a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. Justifying discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation required weighty reasons, and on the facts Cornerstone had failed to show justification. (Normally there is no justification defence for direct discrimination, but s.193 on charities is an exception.)
The case is R (Cornerstone Adoption and Fostering Services) v Ofsted, www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2021/1390.html