Poots to appeal gay adoption ruling

Published Thursday, 18 October 2012
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The Health Minister Edwin Poots has said he will appeal a High Court ruling that banning same sex couples from adopting is unlawful discrimination.

Poots to appeal gay adoption ruling
Until the ruling, gay people had only been allowed to adopt if they were single. (© Getty)

On Thursday Mr Justice Treacy held that the prohibition discriminated against those in civil partnerships and breached their right to family life.

Previously, only married couples and single people - whether straight or gay - could adopt in Northern Ireland. But the law has now been brought into line with the rest of the UK.

Speaking following the ruling in the High Court on Thursday, the judge said: "The present legislation essentially entails that a gay or lesbian person must choose between being eligible to adopt, or affirming their relationship in public via a civil partnership ceremony."

The verdict came in a challenge to adoption laws brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

I am not convinced that today's judgment is ultimately in the best interests of some of the most vulnerable children in Northern Ireland.

Edwin Poots

Mr Poots said his department's position remain unchanged and he would urgently appeal the judgement "with a heavy heart".

"A decision to place a child for adoption should be made on the basis that it is in the best interests of the child to be adopted and following a process of thorough assessment to determine that this is the case," he said.

"The welfare of the child is the central tenet of the main body of children's law in Northern Ireland- and this extends to adoption law. No-one has a right to adopt a child and, even when approved, prospective adoptive parents may or may not be deemed suitable to adopt a specific child - this relies solely on the best interests of that particular child being served by that arrangement.

Mr Poots said the ruling had further delayed his intention to reform the current Adoption and Children Bill.

John O'Doherty, Director of The Rainbow Project said the minister appeared to be allowing "personal prejudices" to influence his public responsibilities.

He said: "Instead of wasting public money on a fool's errand to overturn this ruling he should abide by the rule of law and bring forward legislation to remove the discriminatory and unlawful ban on same sex couples providing safe homes for the thousands of children in Northern Ireland who need them."

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.

Michael O'Flaherty, NI Human Rights Commission

NIHRC Chief Commissioner Professor Michael O'Flaherty has welcomed the ruling.

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

"It brings Northern Ireland law in line with the rest of the UK and means that couples who are not married, those in civil partnerships and same sex couples, will be now be allowed to apply to adopt.

"Mr Justice Treacy agreed with the Commission that preventing someone from even being considered to adopt because of their relationship status is a discriminatory practice."

© UTV News
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28 Comments
robert in Belfast wrote (646 days ago):
Just wanted to give Conor from Belfast a big pat on the back - well done for speaking up for gay community. Great to see some Straight Men can also speak up for us. As for Poots, it's laughable and just confirms how backward and medievil the local government are.
Mike in Belfast wrote (649 days ago):
Agree with Colin. I support the union with the UK but not at the cost of basic human rights being trampled over by our so called Unionist politicians. If it's law in UK then why doesn't it apply to NI. I really cannot bring myself to vote for any Unionist politician having seen their true homophobic, bigotted and frankly whacky and irrational colours over recent events. Why are they doing their best to stop NI moving forward? They simply cannot help themselves reaching for the self-destruct button on issues of so called morality. I suspect that I am not alone and many people of a unionist ilk will be seriously reconsidering things at the next election. Perhaps Alliance or the Conservatives are looking like a good alternative. (Never though that I'd be saying that the Conservatives are looking moderate - but they are beside the rabid unionist agenda).
Natural & Proper in belfast wrote (649 days ago):
This is a disgraceful outcome that will have terrible moral ramifications for our country in the long term. I hope Poots gets this decision overturned!
Laura in Belfast wrote (649 days ago):
All this political correctness is mad. I am not against same sex partnerships, but let's listen to science and biology shall we. Man plus man cannot make baby. It just wasn't meant to be, deal with it. Let's stop being selfish, whether it's gay adoption, abortion or whatever. And before anyone judges, no I am not religious and I have gay family members. Let's think about the children for once.
interested in the evidence in Uk wrote (649 days ago):
@ Lena "From a biblical point of view the Lord Jesus did not want this sort of relationship, never mind children being brought up in such an environment"... when exactly did 'Jesus' say this.... I'm pretty sure you won't be able to find any reference to 'Jesus' saying anything remotely similar...Jesus, mind you, not someone like leviticus who came along after the event and added rubbish about witches, shell fish and tatooes - all forgotten now, but still we cling to his comments on gay rights?
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