PERTH — A Christian couple in Australia has filed legal action after their application to foster children was denied, with the claim that it was not certain they could provide a “safe living environment” due to their biblical views on homosexuality.
According to reports, Byron and Keira Hordyk, who attend Free Reformed Church of Baldivis and have children of their own, had applied to foster in 2017 through Wansea Family Services.
The initial report on the family was positive, but as the assessment proceeded and the couple spoke of their Christian faith, they were asked by an assessor how they would react to a child who identified as homosexual.
The Hordyks stated that they would love and care for the child just like any other, but noted that as Christians, they believe that homosexuality is a sin that can be resisted and would encourage the child to do so.
In September, the couple received a letter from Family Services advising that their application would proceed no further as they had not satisfied one of the five criteria set by the Department of Communities. According to WA Today, that prong was “providing a safe living environment.”
The Hordyks subsequently filed suit, alleging discrimination due to their religious beliefs. They argued that Wansea Family Services seems to only accept homes that affirm homosexuality, and that if there was truly a concern, why could the organization not simply approve them for non-homosexual children instead of denying the application altogether?
The Equal Opportunity Commission declined to hear the complaint, stating that it was “lacking in substance,” but allowed the matter to be forwarded to the State Administrative Tribunal. Family Services then likewise sought to have the case dismissed, stating that it was frivolous, but the tribunal denied the attempt.
The matter will now proceed to a hearing.
As previously reported, in March 2018, a Superior Court judge in Canada ruled in favor of a Christian couple who lost their foster children, and were prevented from caring for other children, after refusing to lie by claiming that the Easter Bunny was delivering candy to their home.
Derek and Frances Baars, who are Reformed Presbyterians, began fostering two young girls in December 2015. However, shortly after the girls were placed in their home, concerns were raised by the Children’s Aid Society that the couple was not going to play Santa Claus and Easter Bunny with the children.
The Society soon decided to remove the children from the Baars’ custody, concluding that the couple was “not prepared to support the agency position and support the needs of the children.”
“[The] Society’s actions interfered substantially with the Baars’ religious beliefs,” wrote Justice Andrew Goodman. “It appears that the Society would not be satisfied with anything other than confirmation from the Baars that they would lie about the Easter Bunny. I am persuaded that it was impossible for the Baars to meet the Society’s demands without acting contrary to their religious beliefs. … [R]eligious freedom means that ‘no one is to be forced to act in a way contrary to his beliefs or his conscience.’”
He said that the children could have celebrated Easter with other children, or at their biological parents’ home, as had been done at Christmastime. The judge further noted that Mrs. Baars had requested that instead of closing their foster home, they be considered for newborns or children whose parents did not teach them about Santa or the Easter Bunny.
“The Society’s actions to shut the foster home were entirely arbitrary and without justification,” Goodman concluded.