According to The Times, Catholic marriage counselling agencies could face closure unless they agree to stop “discriminating” against LGBT couples.
The government is threatening to withdraw millions of euro of public funding unless the counselling services agree to change their longstanding policy of excluding same-sex couples from their services on religious grounds.
It means that groups such as Accord could be facing closure having already had their funding cut by more than 40 per cent three years ago.
At the moment, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs is paying at least €1.6 million to religious counselling groups that have policies of refusing homosexual couples for marriage or relationship counselling. The agencies are funded by Tusla, which is the responsibility of Katherine Zappone, the minister for children.
Accord, the counselling service run by the Irish Catholic Bishops, received over 1 and a half million in 2016, the most public funding awarded to any single counselling service in the state.
Accord’s funding accounted for a quarter of the €6 million of taxpayers’ money awarded to similar services in the same year. It has a formal national policy of not accepting gay and lesbian couples in its marriage counselling courses.
Tusla has now created a new service level agreement for 2018, which means that any agency that it funds will have to agree to have non-discriminatory policies.
All of the Tusla funded agencies have recently been sent the new service level agreement. Funded groups have been told they cannot discriminate against people on a number of grounds, including sexual orientation. The new policy is based on a review Tusla carried out.
I have gone out to Accord for an interview on this but today I want to know what you think.
Do you think Catholic marriage counselling services should be forced to accept same sex couples?
Or do you think it goes against their religious beliefs and that is it actually discriminatory to the religious groups.
It comes down to this really – should religious groups be forced to go against their beliefs?
The main issue is that these groups are publicly funded so tax payers money is used to fund them.
However, the Catholic Church has always been against same sex marriage and they firmly believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. Should they be forced to change their beliefs in this ever changing world?
Or do you think that would be unfair?
I want to know what you think –
So – should Catholic marriage counselling groups be forced to accept same sex couples?