Door to Gay Adoption Opened in Northern Ireland
A ban on adoption by unmarried couples has been reversed by the United Kingdom’s House of Lords, possibly opening the way to adoptions by gay couples.
As reported in a June 18 article by the Belfast Telegraph, a Northern Irish unmarried heterosexual couple had contested the ban, taking their challenge to the highest court in the United Kingdom, where, in a 4-1 decision, the ban on unmarried couples adopting children was struck down.
The male partner in the couple had taken on the ban in order to gain the right to adopt his female partner’s child. But some now worry that two men or two women will seek similar family consideration from the law.
Gay adoption is already legal everywhere in the United Kingdom except for Northern Ireland, and while the decision says nothing about adoption rights for same-gender families, by removing the requirement that would-be adoptive parents be married first, the ruling could conceivably lead to similar challenges from men who wish to jointly father children, or women who dream of becoming a child’s two mommies.
One provision in the ruling does uphold the status quo to an extent: the decision says that the marital status of prospective parents via adoption may be factored into the final decision of whether to grant, or to deny, an adoption bid, reported the Belfast Times.
The circumstances of the ruling include the fact that the heterosexual partners had been living together for nine years, since before the girl was born, and that the girl’s biological father was not interested in asserting parental rights.
Said Evelyn Melanophy, a lwyer for the couple, "[The girl] has been treated a child of the family since her birth."
Continued Melanophy, "This decision now offers the couple the opportunity to move forward and to resume their application to the family division of the High Court to jointly apply to adopt the child."