Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Minister defends adoption stance

Health Minister Edwin Poots has defended his stance against adoption by gay couples.

Northern Ireland health minister Edwin Poots has insisted his controversial opposition to gay adoption is entirely natural.

Man and woman should raise children, the senior Democratic Unionist said.

The minister has tried to challenge an appeal court's decision that paved the way for gay and lesbian couples to adopt children in the region. That bid was thrown out by the UK's highest court, the Supreme Court.

He clarified his views in the assembly today.

"The natural order, whether one believes in God or whether one believes in evolution, the natural order is for a man and a woman to have a child and therefore that has made my views on adoption very, very clear and on raising children very, very clear," the Lagan Valley MLA said.

"It should be a man and a woman that raises a child.

"People can criticise me for that and they can challenge me for that and they can say it is backward.

"The truth is that still today, in this modern era, it is only a man and a woman that can produce a child and therefore I think it is in the best order for a man and a woman to raise a child."

Mr Poots was asked about the issue in the Assembly.

At present a single gay or lesbian person can adopt in Northern Ireland but a couple in a civil partnership cannot.

A challenge to the legislation was mounted by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, which was backed by an unidentified lesbian woman who wants to enter into a civil partnership and be able to adopt her partner's biological child.

Unmarried couples in Great Britain can apply jointly to be considered for adoption irrespective of sexual orientation. But anyone unmarried in Northern Ireland is only eligible for consideration as an individual.

Those in civil partnerships cannot apply individually or as a couple.

The Commission challenged the law on the grounds that certain provisions were unjustifiably discriminatory to those in homosexual relationships, in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Court of Appeal in Belfast ruled in the Commission's favour and against Mr Poots's Department in June.

The Department then applied for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court on a point of law but judges decided the application did not satisfy the criteria of raising an arguable point of law of general public importance.

Mr Poots has also faced criticism for his stance on blood donations by homosexual people but he said in response to a question that he did not think homosexuality was an illness.

"Many people have various elements to their lives that when it comes to sexuality many people who are heterosexual would desire lots of other folks," he added.

"Those of us who are married should not be doing that so people can resist urges and in terms of all of this I would just encourage people to take a sensible and rational view on these issues."

He added: "In terms of blood safety, that is purely about safety."

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