Victory For Couple Whose Foster Boy Was Taken Away
The couple who had an 11-year-old boy removed from their care because they refused to sign new sexual equality rules have won their battle to continue fostering.
Vincent and Pauline Matherick believed the regulations went against their Christian beliefs but social workers told them they had no choice but to sign them.
Last night, however, the couple were celebrating after social services assured them they would not have to promote same-sex relationships.
It was not clear last night if they had been reunited with the boy but the move does pave the way for his return.
The boy, whom they had looked after for two years, was taken into care by Somerset County Council last Friday.
The Mathericks, who have three grown-up children of their own, said they were “delighted” by the decision.
Mr Matherick said: “This is a blessing and I must thank the media, and particularly the Daily Mail, for their help in highlighting the issue.”
The Mathericks, from Chard, had refused to sign the contract drawn up by the council to implement Labour’s Sexual Orientation Regulations, which make discrimination on the grounds of sexuality illegal.
The couple, who have fostered 28 children since 2001, were told they would be required to discuss same-sex relationships with children as young as 11 and tell them gay partnerships were just as acceptable as heterosexual marriages.
They said they were told they would no longer be allowed to foster if they did not sign.
Rather than face being expelled, they reluctantly gave up fostering.
Mr Matherick, a 65-year-old retired travel agent and primary school governor, said last week: “I simply could not agree to do it because it is against my central beliefs.
“We have never discriminated against anybody but I cannot preach the benefits of homosexuality when I believe it is against the word of God.”
Mrs Matherick, 61, said the boy had been deeply upset when he was taken into care last Friday.
Somerset County Council said the couple had now signed its “equalities promise” contact but emphasised it did not expect the Mathericks to promote homosexuality.
A spokesman for the council added: “We all agree the welfare of children is paramount. This issue may have damaged the image of fostering at a time when vulnerable children need caring homes and Mr and Mrs Matherick join with us in encouraging people to consider fostering.”
Andrea Williams, of the pressure group Christian Concern For Our Nation, said: “This should be of enormous encouragement to all Christians who want to take up the important role of caring for vulnerable children.”
The Mathericks’ victory came after a magistrate who says he was forced to resign because he would not place children for adoption with gay couples lost his appeal.
Andrew McClintock, 63, of Sheffield, plans to take his fight to the Court of Appeal.