Thursday, March 18, 2010
British High court knocks back compulsory servicing of homosexuals
High Court reverses ban on Catholic Care’s anti-gay adoption policy. Other Catholic agencies have cut their ties with the Church or given up adoption
A Roman Catholic child-adoption society has won a landmark High Court battle that could allow it and other Catholic agencies to discriminate legally against gay couples. Catholic Care, which serves the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough, and Hallam, South Yorkshire, launched the legal action in an attempt to continue its work finding homes for children.
Catholic Care, which provided adoption services only to married couples in keeping with current Catholic doctrine, was seeking an exemption from the Sexual Orientation Regulations. The 2007 regulations made it unlawful to discriminate on the ground of sexual orientation in the provision of goods or services to the public. The Government previously rejected appeals for an exemption for Catholic agencies but ministers gave them a 20-month transition period, which ended last year. Other Catholic agencies have already given up adoption or cut their ties with the Church.
Catholic Care argued at the High Court that it had achieved particular success in finding adoptive parents for “hard to place” children. The support after adoption, funded by giving from within the Church, also meant that its adoptions had a lower failure rate.
Mr Justice Briggs, sitting in London, allowed the charity’s appeal and ordered the Charity Commission, which made the original decision against Catholic Care, to reconsider. The Charity Commission was ordered by the judge to pay the legal costs of Catholic Care, which is linked to the Roman Catholic diocese of Leeds, unofficially estimated at more than £100,000.
Arthur Roche, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds, welcomed the ruling. He said: “We look forward to producing evidence to the Charity Commission to support the position that we have consistently taken through this process that without being able to use this exemption children without families would be seriously disadvantaged. “Catholic Care has been providing specialist adoption services for over 100 years. We have helped hundreds of children . . . as well as offering ongoing and post-adoption support to families.”
Jonathan Finney, head of external affairs at Stonewall, the gay rights charity, said: “It is clearly in the best interests of children in care to encourage as wide a pool of potential adopters as possible. All religious adoption agencies receive funding or subsidy in some form from the public purse. There should be no question of discriminatory behaviour by any organisation that benefits from the taxpayer.”
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “It is unfortunate that the court has enabled Catholic Care to exploit what was obviously an error in the drafting of the equality legislation. The loophole this created was never intended to be used this way.”
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement also condemned the decision. The Rev Sharon Ferguson said: “We do not doubt that Catholic Care has done good work in the past but it should only continue to do so within the current legal framework. It makes no sense and is entirely unjust to allow exemptions of this nature. Would Mr Justice Briggs have reached the same decision if Catholic Care had asked to be allowed to discriminate against couples on the grounds of their race or physical ability?”
Lazy British social workers let another kid die
If only they had been told that the offender disliked homosexuals, they would have LEAPT into action
Children's services today blamed 'human error' for failing to act on information about a man with a history of violence who then went on to kill his new-born daughter. Christopher Sellman, 24, had a conviction for assault and had been cautioned for child neglect before he was found guilty of killing 25-day-old Tiffany Sellman Burdge.
Social services in Kent were contacted by a relative before she was born informing them that Sellman's partner was pregnant with his child. But a failure to register the information meant Sellman went unchecked and he went on to kill Tiffany, who died from a fractured skull and bleeding to the brain. The baby girl died at Kings College Hospital, in London, on November 1, 2008, after Sellman called an ambulance earlier in the day telling the operator that she was losing colour and had 'gone floppy'. Tiffany was taken to the Kent and Sussex Hospital in Tunbridge Wells, before being transferred to the London hospital where a CT scan showed the extent of her injuries.
Sellman was arrested and charged with her murder, but it was reduced to manslaughter part-way through his trial at Maidstone Crown Court. He was convicted yesterday.
Today, Kent County Council conceded that an independent review of the case had identified a 'missed opportunity' within children's social services to share information. Rosalind Turner, managing director of children, families and education at the council, said: 'This was an isolated example of human error. 'We have a comprehensive training and professional development programme in place to make sure our social workers are equipped to do the difficult and challenging task that they are required to do.'
Ms Turner said the death was 'deeply distressing' and that the council had worked with the local safeguarding children board to examine the build-up to her death and identify lessons to be learned. She added: 'Human error is always a possibility. In this case, on a single occasion, a member of the family mentioned to the social worker that Christopher Sellman's partner was pregnant. 'The social worker, who had a 30-year career with an exemplary record, was not dealing directly with the young woman who was pregnant and this information did not get registered. 'We deeply regret this.'
David Worlock, chair of the Kent Safeguarding Children Board, said: 'This is a very distressing case and I would like to express my sadness at Tiffany's death. 'The death of any child is deeply upsetting and when a child dies in these circumstances it is only right for all of the agencies involved to look at their practices and seek to learn lessons wherever possible.
'An independent expert from the NSPCC was commissioned by the Kent Safeguarding Children Board to take a thorough and impartial look at all of the agencies' actions to identify what lessons could be learned. 'The findings have been accepted and several recommendations made, all of which are being acted on. 'The Kent Safeguarding Children Board will monitor the impact of these on practice in Kent. The board has an important role to play in evaluating how effective safeguarding arrangements are in Kent. 'Along with all local safeguarding children boards, it will be strengthening this quality assurance role to help improve the safety and well-being of Kent children.'
Every year, between 17,000 and 20,000 children are referred to Kent children's social services. In the year to March 2009, the total number of referrals was 17,358 children, of which 1,233 were children with child protection plans. In the case of Sellman, the court heard that throughout their investigation, police found he failed to give an accurate account of what had happened to Tiffany before his 999 call. It was also established that he told a number of people at least five different versions of events.
During the trial, which began on February 1, he denied both the murder and the manslaughter of his daughter, claiming that he had accidentally dropped her. Sentencing of Sellman, previously of Tunbridge Wells, was adjourned until April 28.
Following yesterday's verdict, Detective Chief Inspector Dave Chewter, of Kent Police, said: 'Tiffany was a well cared for baby, her mother Pamela looked after her with love and devotion. 'She left her daughter with Christopher, Tiffany's father, on just this one occasion whilst she visited family for the first time since the birth. 'When she left the house, Tiffany was well and had just been fed. She left her daughter in the hands of someone who should have been there to protect and keep her safe. 'Pamela's life has been turned upside down and to this day she continues to struggle with her terrible loss.'
The baby's mother, Pamela Burdge, said: 'The loss and pain I feel as a result of my beautiful daughter Tiffany's death is indescribable, I will never get over it. 'I will never be able to understand why Chris never told the truth, but I am relieved justice has been served.'
New Mexico woman arrested in false rape claim
Police say a Las Cruces woman has been arrested for falsely claiming that she had been sexually assaulted. Police say 20-year-old Michelle Holcomb is charged with one count of filing a false police report. She's jailed at the Dona Ana County Detention Center on $1,000 bond.
Police say were dispatched to Holcomb's home Sunday afternoon after the woman claimed that she had been drugged and raped during a party Saturday night. She was taken to Memorial Medical Center for an examination while detectives followed up on her allegations.
Through their investigation, detectives learned that Holcomb's story was possibly fabricated. They say Holcomb later admitted she made up the story to avoid getting in trouble with her parents for staying out late Saturday night.
British job centre not tolerant enough
A JEDI believer won an apology from a Jobcentre which threw him out for refusing to remove his hood. Star Wars fan Chris Jarvis, 31, was told he would have to leave if he did not take it down.
Chris is a member of the International Church of Jediism - based on the sci-fi films - whose doctrine states that followers should be allowed to wear hoods. But when he protested, security escorted him from his local branch in Southend, Essex.
He filled out a complaint form - and received a formal letter from the JobCentre Plus branch's boss just three days later. Wendy Flewers apologised, adding: "We are committed to provide a customer service which embraces diversity and respects customers' religion."
Chris said: "I was just standing up for my beliefs. "Muslims can walk around in whatever religious gear they like, so why can't I?"
Southend Jobcentre Plus refused to comment yesterday. A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: "Customers may be asked by Jobcentre staff to remove their helmets and hoods for security reasons."
Australia: That "welcome" ritual again
Some straight talk from Gary Johns, formerly a minister in the Keating Labor government. He is referring to the politically correct custom -- recently criticized by Australia's Federal conservative leader -- of acknowledging Aboriginal "traditional ownership" of the land at the outset of public meetings. I heartily agree that such tokenism is contemptible while there is negligible policing of Aboriginal violence towards their women and children -- JR
An American anthropologist studying Sydney Aborigines commented recently, "Doing culture can reinforce one's indigeneity or it can make one appear unreal." Welcome to country is a constant reminder of a people bypassed by progress. And how long should this go on? For 40,000 years until the ledger is somehow squared? Is there nothing else an Aborigine would want to be known for?
The welcome ceremony is part of a mindset that locks Aborigines out of the world in which they desperately need to engage. Government ministers offer a rote acknowledgment of traditional custodians but don't enforce truancy laws to make Aboriginal children attend school. Ministers will hold hands, walk over bridges and spend taxpayers' dollars on busybody schemes, but to do something effective such as forcing a child to attend school in the face of an ignorant parent: never.
I recall Howard government minister Philip Ruddock giving a welcome to country in Perth while the commonwealth was opposing a native title claim by the Nyungar people over Perth. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin offers an acknowledgment at most functions, even while withholding welfare cheques from Aborigines.
Whether doing the wrong thing (not enforcing truancy laws) or the right thing (opposing poorly conceived native title claims and imposing income management for poor behaviour), the acknowledgment is trotted out. There are problems with its apparently simple wish "to show respect for Aboriginal culture and heritage and acknowledge the ongoing relationship traditional custodians have with their land". It is a gesture full of holes and with some weird fellow travellers.
One-quarter of Aborigines do not recognise a particular area as their homeland and one-quarter live in areas that may have some relationship to their original land, but those are the poor beggars who are worse off by a long way.
As for custodians, it perpetuates the myth of the Aborigine as the gentle gardener. Paul Albrecht, a former pastor at Hermannsburg in the Northern Territory, says the Aboriginal concept of caring for country is not related to environmental concerns: it's about guarding sites of significance and caring for sacred objects. Their primitive technology and frequent moves meant they did not evolve rules for land care as it is understood today.
On occasions when the substantive matter has to do with Aborigines and the function is taking place on Aboriginal land as recognised by Australian law, a welcome to country or acknowledgment is appropriate. But to indulge the concept on land that is owned by others is an insult to the latter's rights. Indeed, by overplaying the historic claims to all Australian land, the welcome acts as the original sin: it can never be expunged unless the whitefella leaves.
Peter Adam, principal of Victoria's Anglican theological institute Ridley College, was stupid enough to suggest this, saying last year that all non-Aboriginal Australians should be prepared to leave if the indigenous people wanted that, "making restitution for the vile sin of genocide". "The prosperity of our churches has come from the proceeds of crime. Our houses, our churches, our colleges, our shops, our sport grounds, our parks, our courts, our parliaments, our prisons, our hospitals, our roads, our reservoirs are stolen property," he said.
What should the three-quarters of Aborigines who are of mixed descent do? Stay or go?
In last year's Massey Lectures in Canada, anthropologist Wade Davis boldly asserted that "the other cultures of the world are not failed attempts to be modern, failed attempts to be us. Each is a unique and profound answer to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive?" He suggested that "the aboriginal people were never touched by the desire to improve the world" and that for them "the purpose of humanity [is] to sustain the Garden of Eden". What a paternalistic prig! Aborigines did their best to alter the environment by hunting macropods to death and burning much of Australia's forests, altering for all time the Garden of Eden.
Undertaken at the wrong time and place, the traditional acknowledgment serves the purposes of those determined to lock Aborigines out of the modern economy. If ministers don't agree, they should stop doing it.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.