Christian magistrate suspended after saying adopted child should have a mum and dad, not gay parents

Magistrate Richard Page was told he should not have let his beliefs influence his decision.Christian Legal Centre

A Christian magistrate was suspended and sent for equality training after saying he believed it was in a child's best interests to be raised by a mother and father, and not a gay couple.

Richard Page, 68, shared his views with colleagues in private. He was later reported for alleged prejudice and suspended from sitting on family court cases.

After an investigation by a local conduct panel, he was told he had broken the oath taken by magistrates to "do right to all manner of people... without fear or favour, affectation or ill-will", the Daily Mail reports.

The case was referred to the Lord Chief Justice Sir John Thomas and Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling, who said last month that he had also contravened the Equality Act, which bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. They said he had allowed his beliefs, and not the evidence, to influence his judgement.

Page, who is a former NHS manager, has worked as a Justice of the Peace in Kent for 15 years.

"My Christian faith informs me that children flourish best in a loving home with a married mum and dad. My 20 years of experience in mental health service also leads me to the same conclusion," Page said in a statement. "This is not a matter of prejudice or bigotry but is based on knowledge and evidence that I have applied when seeking the best interests for a lifetime of a vulnerable child."

"As a Magistrate in the Family Court, I must conduct a case-by-case analysis, based on the facts which are before me. In this particular case, it appeared to me that there was overwhelming evidence that the situation was not in the best interests of the child," Page said.

His comments about traditional marriage were made to fellow magistrates as they deliberated the case last July. Page was surprised to find afterwards that he had been reported for alleged prejudice, as he felt the difference of opinion was typical of this kind of discussion.

"What I was staggered by was that they were saying I was a Christian and therefore I was prejudiced. They were far more prejudiced in their complaint than I was in what I said," he said in an interview with the Mail on Sunday.

"Why do you have magistrates if there isn't a different view that they can have? We all have views and that's what you have to bring to decision-making, and mine are Christian views," Page added.

Page said in a statement that he has faced "huge pressure to conform" since making the decision, but felt he should maintain his stance for the sake of the child.

"Christian faith demands setting aside ideologically convenient conclusions and fighting for the best interests of children," he said.

He has sought support from the Christian Legal Centre and human rights barrister Paul Diamond, who has represented a number of Christians in employment disputes.

"Richard Page is accused of being prejudiced on account of his Christian faith. Ironically, closer inspection of this case reveals that the real discriminatory prejudice is that practised by those who would prioritise the placing of this child with a same-sex couple, not on the basis of evidence but on the basis of ideology, said Andrea Minichiello Williams, barrister and chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre.

"Children should not be denied the chance to be brought up by a mum and dad wherever that option exists. We cannot allow children to become pawns on the 'equality' battlefield. Real 'equality' means focusing on the needs of each child not being driven by the so-called rights of adults to become parents."