Published Thursday, 18 October 2012
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.
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