UK Christians Denied Foster Kids Over Equality Laws

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DERBY, England - A Christian couple in the United Kingdom who were denied the right to foster children because of their stance on homosexuality are now petitioning the prime minister for help in the case.

Eunice and Owen Johns of Derby, England, are campaigning to be reinstated as foster parents, after their bid was halted in March.

The couple, who had been caring for children since 1992, had applied to Derby City Council in 2007 to restart fostering after taking a break. But social workers raised concerns that their views on homosexuality would conflict with the new Equality Act regulations.

In March, the High Court in London agreed, ruling that Christians with traditional views on sexual ethics are unsuitable as foster parents and could be potentially harmful to children.

"We did not believe it. We were shocked. We really were so disappointed about the whole thing," Eunice Owens said. "We thought this was a Christian country and so to have the judges saying it was no longer a Christian country, we were really shocked to hear... It was devastating."

"It would make me a better candidate to foster children because our Bible beliefs teach us to love, and so many of these children need care, love and understanding," Owen added. "Our Bible teaches all that and I think that we could make wonderful foster caretakers because we have done it before."

Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Center is representing the couple.

"What we have here is a situation where sexual orientation rights trump Christian rights," she explained. "What we have is political correctness trumping Christian freedom."

The petition launched on behalf of the couple calls on U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron to urgently address the challenges that a recent equality bill has brought to Christians. At least 100,000 signatures are needed.

"If we do that, we're going to be able to rattle the cage of Parliament in this nation," Williams said. "Indeed if we were to get a million signatures then something extraordinary would happen. We'd actually be able to get a bill introduced into parliament."

Meanwhile, the Derby City Council released a statement regarding the Johns' re-application to become foster caretakers, saying their application will be considered "and a decision will be made in light of the broad range of issues highlighted in the assessment."

The Christian couple is still hoping they will win their right to become foster parents once again and provide a loving home to vulnerable children.

"We are going to keep fighting. We are not going to stop," Eunice said. "Because we have been foster parents and so we love that type of thing, to see children that are less fortunate, to give them a home."

The Johns case was originally heard last year and supported by senior clergy including former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey who warned that gay rights were taking precedence over the rights of others.

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