Ban on civil partner adopting: Pressure piles on Health Minister Edwin Poots after another court failure
Minister loses court bid to stop gay couples adopting
Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots' position has been seriously undermined after another expensive court failure, it has been claimed.
Mr Poots had challenged an appeal court's decision that paved the way for gay and lesbian couples to adopt children here.
But in a major development, the Supreme Court yesterday rejected his attempt to overturn the ruling in favour of same-sex and unmarried couples adopting.
A spokesman for the UK's top court said: "The Supreme Court has refused permission to appeal the Court of Appeal's decision in this matter."
Mr Poots has spent almost £100,000 of public money appealing the High Court decision that a ban on civil partners adopting children is illegal and trying to ban gay men donating blood.
Mr Poots' decision to maintain a lifetime ban on gay men donating blood was "irrational", Mr Justice Treacy said earlier this month, because blood from gay men is still imported from England where the ban no longer applies.
He also held that Mr Poots breached the ministerial code by failing to take the issue before the Executive and now Mr Poots has failed in a second case that gay rights activists had claimed unfairly discriminated against homosexuals.
Alliance Health spokesman Kieran McCarthy MLA said: "Edwin Poots' position as Health Minister has been seriously undermined by successive legal failures over adoption by civil partners and the ban on gay men donating blood.
"He has continued to waste public money on personal campaigns despite court failures.
"The Minister must do what is right and urgently allow civil partners the opportunity to apply to adopt. He must accept this decision and cease any further legal action."
The SDLP said the Supreme Court decision represented "a withering indictment" and West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood said: "The policy around adoption now needs to be rectified.
"He must confirm legislation will be brought forward. Not to do so would mean he is not fulfilling the requirements of his office."
At present a single gay or lesbian person can adopt in Northern Ireland but a couple in a civil partnership cannot. A challenge was mounted by the NI Human Rights Commission arguing the law was discriminatory to homosexual relationships, in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court of Appeal in Belfast ruled in its favour and Mr Poots appealed to the Supreme Court on a point of law. That has now been rejected.