Sunday, 28 November 2010

Items of interest II

I spotted this article on Pink News recently and it really caught my attention. For a number of reasons: primarily the ongoing debate about gay adoption - but also the relatively new dynamic of medical opinion opposed to equality.

In essence the article discusses the aim of a doctor who refused to endorse same-sex adoption applications (and who resigned from an adoption panel on that basis) to appeal to and employment tribunal; and onward the European Court of Justice, on the grounds her medical opinion should override equality legislation. She believes that children should only be raised by mixed sex couples; and she claims this view is based on objective medical studies as well as her religious beliefs.

She is being represented by something called the Christian Law Centre, which said “Much of the population, and many studies, would agree with her professional and personal standpoint. Most professional opinion on this issue happens to fit closely with the Christian view. Yet Christians are being increasingly excluded from the public square and this can no longer go unnoticed".

Having worked in medical regulation for some years I would argue her assertions regarding medical evidence are risky. While I have no doubt there are studies that suggest gay couples are less suitable as parents, there are many that come to the opposite conclusion. When considering whether to launch a case against a doctor, on the grounds of professional misconduct, I have to consider whether the doctor's conduct could cause serious harm to patients, his/her colleagues or public confidence in the medical profession: and whether there is a reasonable prospect of probative evidence.

Allowing your religious views to interfere with your professional duties is clearly actionable. Actively discriminating against same sex couples hoping to adopt (and this breaking the law) is clearly actionable. But, by resigning and claiming scientific evidence to support her views, she has created quite an effective shield. No doubt the Christian Law Centre will seek to create a precedent weakening the application of equality legislation. Either way, I imagine the appropriate authorities will watch the case closely.

Studying for a degree in social research, I found the idea of research being used in this way intriguing. In fact a simple review of the available research suggests that it is very limited - there are too few cases of gay adoption and they are too recent for the impact to be objectively measured. But what qualitative research there is is broadly positive. Certainly the process of adoption, for gay or straight couples, means unsuitable parents are filtered out in ways that going out and getting knocked up in a boozy knee-trembler doesn't (see the clip below for a more eloquent discussion of that point). It might be a topic for my own research, going forward... so a timely controversy I suppose.

My own view is of course that any child is better off in any loving supportive home. Having children is a privilege not a right, and provides an awesome responsibility on those involved. And the fact that gay people want to assume that responsibility should be celebrated, not the subject of legal action.


GaySocrates said...

Do I sense a broodiness in the air?

Antony said...

I agree that as long as the child has a loving family, that should be what counts!

I think research can be used to prove just about anything, lol and that there has to be an element of common sense and wisdom in it's application.

A xx

Mike said...

Broodiness... well, more on that soon. And as for the research, with my degree this topic has given me some ideas :-)

Brain Mechanic said...

love dan savage. thanks for posting!