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BBC News : Gay adoption ruling from Supreme Court
A ban on gay and unmarried couples applying to adopt children in Northern Ireland has been removed.
They may now apply in the same way as heterosexual couples.
Health Minister Edwin Poots had tried to challenge an appeal court decision to extend adoption rights to gay couples.
However, the Supreme Court said the Department of Health’s argument for appeal did not meet the criteria.
Previously, a single gay or lesbian person could adopt children in Northern Ireland, but a couple in a civil partnership could not.
In June, the Court of Appeal ruled that the ban based on relationship status was held to discriminate against those in civil partnerships and to breach their human rights.
Northern Ireland was the only part of the United Kingdom where that policy existed.
Now, the law in Northern Ireland is in line with the rest of the UK.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “Following the Court of Appeal judgement in June 2013, unmarried couples, including same sex couples, and those in a civil partnership may apply to adopt.
“The final decision regarding the granting of an adoption order will lie with the court.”
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We need to see delivery from Office of First Minster and Deputy First Minister (OFMdFM) – Nesbitt
Ulster Unionist Party leader, Mike Nesbitt MLA, has called for delivery from OFMdFM on the Sexual Orientation Strategy.
Mr Nesbitt, who is also Chair of the OFMdFM Committee, said:“The Sexual Orientation Strategy is becoming one of the longest running sagas of devolution. We have been waiting seven years for a strategy to be produced, following the consultation process of 2006.
“The Assembly was given a commitment by then Junior Minister Robin Newton in 2010 that a strategy was imminent. Then last year Junior Minister Jonathan Bell said we would see the strategy by the end of 2012; again, it didn’t appear. Then in Together: Building a United Community a commitment was given to publishing a sexual orientation strategy before the end of 2013, and lo and behold it hasn’t appeared.
“So where is it? It’s a Programme for Government commitment and after seven years, it’s non-appearance is also conclusive proof of the dysfunctionality of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.
“The purpose of the strategy is to address issues faced by the LGBT community in Northern Ireland, so it is a very important document. Is it now going to become a yearly event where we mark the non-publication of the Sexual Orientation Strategy? If it weren’t so serious, this debacle would be laughable.
“If OFMdFM are serious about building a shared future in Northern Ireland, publishing the sexual orientation strategy would send out a strong message. We need to see delivery on this; it cannot and should not be allowed to rumble on any longer.”
Ulster Unionist Press Office
Room 215 Parliament Buildings