BELFAST — Northern Ireland has lifted its ban that prohibited same-sex couples in civil partnerships from adopting children.
A ruling by the United Kingdom’s high court cleared the way for same-sex couples to adopt in the same manner as heterosexual couples.
Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Edwin Poots had mounted a challenge to a Court of Appeal decision last June to extend adoption rights to same-sex couples.
The Court of Appeal judgment 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.”
Prior to the court’s action, 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.