A Christian couple have been blocked from adopting their two foster children after expressing concerns about them being raised by a gay couple, the Telegraph reports.
The married couple, who have not been named and have looked after the children since earlier this year, admitted that when told that a gay couple may adopt the youngsters they "expressed a degree of shock and asked if this was a 'joke'."
The practising Christians, who have biological children, were said by their social worker to find the situation "very challenging", and two days later formally applied to adopt the foster children themselves.
However, they were turned down by the council, who said that their views about gay parenting were "concerning" and "could be detrimental to the long-term needs of the children."
The couple claimed that, having expressed an interest in adopting the children several times before, they had been told by their social worker that their house was too small. They now say that a move to a new family could put the children under "emotional stress."
In their own notes about a conversation with the social worker, they said that the foster father had said it would be hard to explain the possibility of having gay parents to one of the children, who was "waiting for a new mummy."
The couple, who have now written to the council to appeal against the decision, said that they had "not expressed homophobic views, unless Christian beliefs are, by definition, homophobic".
They added: "We are Christians and we expressed the view that a child needs a mother and a father. We expressed our views in modest, temperate terms based on our Christian convictions.
"We love everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, and we love the children and believe that they would benefit from the foundation offered by a mother and a father.
"The decision... appears discriminatory to us and not related to the children's needs. The children love us: we love them. All the reports show that we are a loving, caring and stable family. What more could a child need?"
Asked about how he would react if one of the children came out as gay, the husband said: "It is hard to accept, but we would accept it."
The foster parents had previously been praised for their "lovely care and warmth" towards the children and for having a strong support network, including their church.
Andrea Williams, the chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting their appeal, said: "This couple's viewpoint is lawful and mainstream."