A Court of Appeal ruling in Northern Ireland has paved the way for homosexual and unmarried couples to adopt children in the Province.
Health Minister Edwin Poots had defended the current law which only allows married couples to jointly adopt.
The taxpayer-funded Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) took the matter to court, claiming the law was discriminatory.
Attorney General John Larkin QC, speaking on behalf of the Health Department, said the current adoption criteria is lawful, appropriate, has public support and is in the best interests of children.
But Lord Justice Girvan said the Health Department had put forward “no justification to exclude same sex couples as parties eligible to adopt as a couple”.
Joint adoption by homosexual couples was legalised in England and Wales in 2002 and came into force in 2005.
The Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 legalised joint adoption by cohabiting heterosexual and homosexual couples in Scotland.
In 2007 the Government held a consultation in Northern Ireland about their proposals to extend joint adoption by homosexuals to the Province.
The official report of the consultation showed that 95 per cent of respondents did not want the law to change to allow homosexual couples to adopt.