A FORMER vicar and his wife have been banned from being foster parents in a row over his views on gay couples.

Rev John Yallop and his wife Colette said they were not homophobic, but would refuse same-sex couples access to their Blackburn home if they were considering adopting one of their foster children.

Rev Yallop, who manages the St Barnabas Church and Community Centre in Johnson Street, Blackburn, said he was not prepared to allow gay couples in his home because of the ‘confusion’ it would cause to his children, aged five and seven.

He said he had been in a two-year fight with Lancashire County Council over the issue. The authority has refused their application to be foster carers but the couple are fighting it, with the backing of the Christian Legal Centre.

The council said the couple's application had to be blocked because of its equality and diversity policies.

He said that if approved as foster parents, they would be ready to help same-sex couples adopt children and 'would be happy for a gay person to visit'.

But he said they would rather meet such couples at a children’s centre than in their family home to avoid awkward questions from their own young son and daughter.

Mr Yallop, 62, said: “We accept council policies on equality and diversity. Even if we disagree with the rights of gay couples to adopt because it goes against our Christian beliefs, it doesn’t make us bad foster parents.”

He added that he had resigned as a minister after having an affair while married to his first wife and had since worked as a support worker for people with mental health problems.

County Coun Susie Charles said the council must operate within both the law and their own equality and diversity policy.

She said: “People who wish to foster must be open to working alongside all approved adopters to give the transition the best chance of success.”

Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, said it was vital Christians were allowed to 'live out our faith in public'.

She said: "It would appear that John and Colette Yallop have been discriminated against due to their Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman and that children do best when they have a mother and a father.”