Britain’s Stonewall LGBT rights group has welcomed a ruling barring a homophobic Christian couple from fostering children.

On Monday, a UK high court upheld an earlier decision by the Derby City Council that Eunice (65) and Owen (62) Johns could not be foster parents because they believe that homosexuality is unacceptable.

The Pentecostal couple had told officials that if they were asked if it is okay to be gay by a foster child they would reply that it is not.

The council decided that under the 2007 Equalities and Sexual Orientation regulations this would disbar the couple from becoming child carers, and the High Court agreed.

“We live in this country in a democratic and pluralistic society, in a secular state not a theocracy,” said Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson in their ruling.

“Our society is now pluralistic and largely secular. We sit as secular judges serving a multi-cultural community of many faiths. The laws and usages of the realm do not include Christianity, in whatever form,” they said.

“We’re delighted that the High Court’s landmark decision has favoured 21st-century decency above 19th-century prejudice,” said Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill.” In any fostering case the interests of the 60,000 children in care should override the bias of any prospective parent.

“Thankfully, Mr and Mrs Johns’s out-dated views aren’t just out of step with the majority of people in modern Britain but those of many Christians too. If you wish to be involved in the delivery of a public service, you should be prepared to provide it fairly to anyone,” he said.

Christian groups have slammed the ruling, claiming that Christianity is being “eradicated” from Britain.

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