updated 2/28/2011 3:59:40 PM ET 2011-02-28T20:59:40

A British court has ruled that a Christian couple cannot care for foster children because they disapprove of homosexuality.

Judges at London's Royal Courts of Justice ruled that laws protecting gays from discrimination take precedence over the couple's religious beliefs.

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Eunice and Owen Johns, aged 62 and 65-years old, had previously fostered children in the 1990s, but what one social worker described as their "strong views" on homosexuality raised red flags with authorities in the English city of Derby when they were interviewed in 2007.

Eunice Johns said Monday that she was "extremely distressed" by the decision, which Christian groups also condemned.

But the judges ruled that Britain was "a secular state, not a theocracy."

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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