Poots to challenge gay adoption legal move

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Couple holding hands

A High Court ruling that a ban on gay and unmarried couples adopting children in NI is unlawful, is to be challenged by Health Minister Edwin Poots.

At present a single gay or lesbian person can adopt but a couple in a civil partnership cannot.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Justice Treacy said the ban discriminated against those in civil partnerships and breached their right to family life.

Mr Poots said his department's position remained unchanged by the judgement.

"It is my intention to urgently appeal this judgment and I am taking this action with a heavy heart," he said.

"I have already publicly declared my intention to reform Northern Ireland adoption law because reform is much needed and long overdue.

"This judicial review has already delayed plans to introduce a new Adoption and Children Bill in the Assembly and I fear that this will lead to further delay."

The High Court verdict came in a challenge to adoption laws brought by the NI Human Rights Commission.

The ruling was welcomed by NI Human Rights Commission spokesman Professor Michael O'Flaherty.

"Through this case the commission has sought to protect the best interests of the child," he said.

"Given the high numbers of children in care who need a family in Northern Ireland, the importance of this case in widening the pool of prospective parents cannot be overstated.

"We are therefore delighted with this outcome."

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