Gay adoption: It is 'natural order' for a man and a woman to have a child, says Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots
"All of the people that were giving birth in that unit were women, and all of those women would not have been impregnated by another woman ..."
Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots has denied he regards homosexuality as "an illness" but defended his opposition to gay adoption.
Speaking during Assembly question time at Stormont, Mr Poots said "the natural order" was for a man and a woman to have a child.
He was responding to a question from Alliance's Trevor Lunn, who asked him if he thought homosexuality was a treatable illness or an "abomination".
He said he did not think he had made the remarks that it was an illness, and went on to defend himself against allegations his views were "backward". "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.
Mr Poots said he had visited a midwifery unit that day.
"When it comes to adoption I've just come from a midwifery-led unit in Lagan Valley today and all of the people that were giving birth in that unit were women, and all of those women would not have been impregnated by another woman.
"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."
The DUP minister added: "People can criticise me for that and they can challenge me for that and they can say it is backward."
The current law allows a single gay or lesbian person to adopt in Northern Ireland, however a couple in a civil partnership cannot.
Mr Poots tried to challenge an Appeal Court's decision that paved the way for gay and lesbian couples to adopt children in Northern Ireland.
The Supreme Court said there were no grounds for an appeal and dismissed it.
Mr Poots has also sparked controversy over his objection to gay men donating blood.
Mr Poots was criticised by High Court judge Mr Justice Treacy for his ban on gay blood donors.
But yesterday he also said his stance was based on safety concerns.
"In terms of blood safety, that's purely on safety," he said.