Northern Ireland lifts same-sex couples adoption ban
BELFAST -- Northern Ireland has lifted its ban on same-sex couples in civil partnerships adopting children. A ruling by the United Kingdom's high court cleared the way for same-sex couples to apply in the same way as heterosexual couples.
Northern Ireland's Health Minister Edwin Poots had mounted a challenge to the June Court of Appeal decision to extend adoption rights to same-sex couples.
The Court of Appeal judgment was handed down in June 2013 in which the court ruled that the ban based on relationship status was held to discriminate against those in civil partnerships and to breach their human rights. The appeal to the United Kingdom Supreme Court was made by the Department of Health in September 2013.
In its decision, the Supreme Court said the Department of Health's argument for appeal did not meet the criteria.
Appearing before the Northern Ireland Assembly, which is responsible for making laws on local matters in Northern Ireland last month, Poots denied claiming that he regards homosexuality as "an illness" but defended his opposition to gay adoption. In answer to a question from a lawmaker Poots said;
"The natural order, whether one believes in God or whether one believes in evolution, the natural order is for a man and a woman to have a child and therefore that has made my views on adoption very, very clear and on raising children very, very clear."
"The truth is that still today, in this modern era, it is only a man and a woman that can produce a child, and therefore I think it is in the best order for a man and a woman to raise a child." he added, "People can criticise me for that and they can challenge me for that and they can say it is backward."
Prior to the court actions a single gay or lesbian person could adopt children in Northern Ireland, but a couple in a civil partnership could not. Northern Ireland was the only part of the United Kingdom where that policy existed.
In a statement released Wednesday, a Department of Health spokesperson said,
"Following the Court of Appeal judgement 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."