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Gay couples can adopt after court rejects Poots appeal

Lord Wilson said he suspects Northern Ireland will not for long be able to hold back the tide in favour of same sex marriages.

Lord Wilson said he suspects Northern Ireland will not for long be able to hold back the tide in favour of same sex marriages.

 

Gay and unmarried couples may now apply to adopt children in Northern Ireland, after a ban was lifted.

They can now go through the same application process as married heterosexuals.

Health Minister Edwin Poots had previously tried to challenge a decision by the Court of Appeal to give adoption rights to gay couples.

But the Supreme Court said yesterday the Department of Health’s argument for appeal did not meet the necessary criteria.

Previously, a single gay person could adopt in the Province, but not a couple in a civil partnership.

In June, the Court of Appeal ruled that the ban in Northern Ireland – unique in the UK – discriminated against people in civil partnerships and breached their human rights.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “Following the Court of Appeal judgment in June 2013, unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, and those in a civil partnership may apply to adopt.

“The final decision regarding the granting of an adoption order will lie with the court.”

Sinn Fein MLA Maeve McLaughlin, who is the chair of the Health Committee in the Assembly, has welcomed the lifting of the ban on unmarried couples, including same-sex couples.

“Today witnesses a further step on the road to equality,” she said.

“Questions still remain as to why the Health Minister, Edwin Poots, chose to waste public money appealing this ban.

“A minister must act for
all people yet this case has
seen Edwin Poots pursuing actions along the lines of his
personal beliefs and allowing his prejudices to affect legislative decisions.”

John McCallister MLA, deputy leader of NI21, said: “This is welcome news which brings Northern Ireland into line with our counterparts throughout the UK. The interests of children have to be the number one priority. If an unmarried couple or a gay couple qualify to adopt and are willing to provide a loving home for vulnerable children, then we should commend them.”

Green MLA Steven Agnew also approved. “I welcome that decision as there are around 2,500 children in care in Northern Ireland who need a loving and nurturing home environment,” he said.

 

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