Homosexuality was only legalised in Northern Ireland after a court case.
Earlier today we reported that because of a court case the High Court had ruled that the prohibition of civil partners from adopting was unlawful, while lesbian or gay individuals were able to adopt providing they weren’t married or adopted.
Now the health minister Edwin Poots has yet again let his personal feelings get in the way of an objective ruling on a point of law. He has said within hours of the ruling that he will challenge the decision of the High Court.
“It is my intention to urgently appeal this judgment and I am taking this action with a heavy heart.
“I have already publicly declared my intention to reform Northern Ireland adoption law because reform is much needed and long overdue.
“This judicial review has already delayed plans to introduce a new Adoption and Children Bill in the [Northern Ireland] Assembly and I fear that this will lead to further delay.”
Now the delay is because the Adoption (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 differed from the regulations for adoption in the rest of the UK. The judicial review came about when it became apparent that the Northern Ireland Assembly chose to deliberately remove the option of anyone in a civil partnership from adopting while maintaining that individuals still could, irrespective of sexual orientation. The easiest way to prevent further delay is to take on board the ruling of the judicial review. Ah, but that would be far too easy and far too wrong for the Health Minister.
Earlier this year the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, John Larkin QC, even tried to argue to the European Court of Human Rights that Austria should not allow same-sex couples to adopt as this would impact on Northern Ireland. Yet this court decision was made in Northern Ireland about Northern Irish people.
The DUP are using every means at their disposal to block any increase in LGBT equality legislation. Poots himself is refusing to countenance any lifting of the lifetime ban on men who have had sex with another man giving blood (despite not widely consulting on this issue). Ahead of the motion on equal marriage it was they that raised a petition of concern, effectively allowing their party to whip a unionist veto. Now even when a High Court makes a review on an issue they are challenging it straight away. Even the original decriminalisation decision was opposed by all Northern Ireland MPs when the vote came to the Commons in 1982.
It is time for the DUP to look at the universal good and not maintain a narrow world view on decisions in this area. Our legislators from the DUP and others do continue to make us appear to be a back water.