Poots to challenge gay and unmarried couples adoption decision

19 October 2012

Edwin Poots is set to appeal the recent High Court ruling that the ban on gay and unmarried couples adopting is unlawful.

Health Minister Edwin Poots is set to appeal High Court ruling that the ban on gay and unmarried couples adopting is unlawful.

The Adoption (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 bans unmarried couples from being eligible to adopt as a couple and bans those in registered civil partnerships from being eligible to adopt either as individuals, or as a couple. At present in Northern Ireland a single gay or lesbian person can adopt but a couple in a civil partnership cannot. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (‘NIHRC’), the body with responsibility for reviewing the adequacy and effectiveness of law and practice relating to the protection of human rights in Northern Ireland, mounted a legal challenge to the ban on gay and unmarried couples adopting children in Northern Ireland.

Counsel for the NI Human Rights Commission argued that the eligibility criteria for adoption is unjustifiably discriminatory and constitutes a breach of human rights, while the Attorney General, on behalf of the department of Health, contended that the policy was believed to be serving the best interests of the child.

The High Court has now ruled that the ban on gay and unmarried couples adopting children in Northern Ireland is unlawful. Mr Justice Treacy said he could find no rational basis for the contention that the current eligibility criteria serve the best interests of the child. The High Court has ruled that the ban discriminated against those in civil partnerships and breached their right to family life.

Mr Poots, Minister for Health, maintains that his department’s position remains unchanged and he has stated his intention to urgently appeal this decision.

Brian Moss has dealt with numerous judicial review issues and would be happy to deal with any queries.

 

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