An evangelical Christian couple is accusing Alberta of discrimination, claiming their application to adopt a child was rejected over their religious views on gay marriage and homosexuality.

The Edmonton married couple say they submitted their application last year and passed a required course for potential adoptive parents.

But during a followup by officials this year, the couple say they ran into trouble when they answered questions about sexuality.

The couple say they accept that same-sex marriage is a legal reality, but they don't support it and believe that homosexuality is wrong.

"The casework supervisor explained that our religious beliefs regarding sexuality were incompatible with the adoption process," says an affidavit filed in support of an application for a judicial review of the government's decision.

"The casework supervisor said this stance was the 'official position of the Alberta government.' "

The couple said they were also asked how they would deal with a child who was questioning his or her sexuality. They told officials that children should be taught that sexuality should not be experienced or explored until a person is an adult and is married.

The couple, who aren't named in the legal documents, said they treat all people with respect and their views on sexuality would have no bearing on their ability to provide a loving, secure and happy home to a child.

They said they never dreamed they would be disqualified from helping children in need because of their religious beliefs.

Seeking judicial review

Officials with Alberta Children's Services were not immediately available for comment.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has filed a court application for a judicial review of the decision on behalf of the couple.

In the application, the centre says the government is requiring prospective adoptive parents to discard their sincerely held religious beliefs without providing any evidence that their beliefs would negatively affect adopted children.

"The respondent (Alberta) requires citizens to profess agreement with and support for its state-sanctioned beliefs in sexuality and gender."

It notes the couple's views are shared by Catholics, other Christians, Muslims and Orthodox Jews.

John Carpay, the organization's president, said it will argue that the decision violates the couple's rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"Making determinations about who is suitable to adopt on the basis of their sincere religious beliefs violates this couple's
right to religious freedom and equality under the law," Carpay said from Calgary.

Carpay doesn't expect the case will be heard until next fall.