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Court of Appeal Dismisses Health Minister Challenge To Same-Sex Adoption

The NI Court of Appeal has dismissed a bid, brought by Health Minister Edwin Poots, to overturn an earlier decision of October 2012 in which the High Court had found that the ban on unmarried couples becoming adoptive parents was discriminatory and a breach of human rights. The present decision by the Court of Appeal to reject Minister Poots’ challenge means that unmarried couples, those in civil partnerships, and same sex couples will be able to become adoptive parents in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, who originally challenged the ban in 2012, said that the decision brings Northern Irish law into line with the law in the rest of the UK. The Court of Appeal said that preventing someone from being considered to adopt a child because of their relationship status is a discriminatory practice. The court said that ‘the Department has put forward no justification to exclude same sex couples as parties eligible to adopt as a couple’. It also said that no proper explanation was advanced for why same sex partners should be considered ineligible for adoption once they publicly cement their relationship in a civil partnership. A barrister acting for the Department of Health suggested that a further appeal to the UK Supreme Court may be sought.

Health, LGBT