May a Christian fostering agency discriminate on grounds of sexuality? Cornerstone

In R (Cornerstone (North East) Adoption and Fostering Service Ltd)) v The Office for Standards In Education, Children’s Services and Skills [2020] EWHC 1679 (Admin), Cornerstone was an independent fostering agency charity based in the North East of England specialising in offering foster and permanent homes to children in the care of local authorities. Because it was founded on evangelical Christian principles, it would only recruit carers, staff and volunteers who would abide by its Statement of Beliefs and Code of Practice which, inter alia, required them to be evangelical Christians and to refrain from “homosexual behaviour” as described in the Code. In practice, the only potential carers whom Cornerstone accepted were evangelical Christian married couples of the opposite sex. It regarded any other form of sexual activity as sinful [1].

When Ofsted inspected Cornerstone in 2019, it concluded that Cornerstone’s recruitment policy violated various provisions of the Equality Act 2010 and the European Convention on Human Rights read with the Human Rights Act 1998. It required Cornerstone to change its policy. Cornerstone challenged Ofsted’s conclusions [4]. Continue reading