Northern Ireland court hears arguments against discriminatory adoption law

by on December 14, 2011  •  In Uncategorized

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is arguing this week before the High Court in Belfast that the law barring adoptions by same-sex and other unmarried couples should be invalidated. From BBC:

The NI Human Rights Commission… claims the current arrangements [for adoptions] discriminate against unmarried and civil partnership couples and breach human rights. Opening the application for judicial review, Monye Anyadike-Danes QC said: "Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom which provides a gateway for adoption through which only couples who are married may pass." The challenge has been backed by an unidentified lesbian woman and her partner who want to adopt a child together.

In a clear indication of its importance, the executive's chief legal adviser, Attorney General John Larkin QC, represented the respondent, the Department of Health…If the Human Rights Commission succeeds it would remove the adoption ban completely.

It is seeking to ensure everyone, irrespective of sexual orientation or marital status, has the opportunity to provide a loving and secure home, the court was told. Ms Anyadike-Danes told Mr Justice Treacy her client wanted to ensure "the pool of potentially suitable parents is as deep as possible". She stressed that the case was focused on the eligibility stage of the adoption process, rather than the later assessment stage.

"That is the right time to look at circumstances," the barrister said. "Not to exclude people with a blanket barrier without even knowing whether they have the qualities to offer a child a nurturing and loving and permanent home."

She argued that there was no justification for the alleged discrimination. "The current state of the law, we say, is not something that has been established to be in the best interest of the child," she said. "We consider the status quo, as it impacts on all unmarried couples, to be discriminatory."

The hearing… is expected to last for three days…

UPDATE 12/14/11 – The hearing has been adjourned until March to allow the parties to consider the impact of new evidence regarding the legislative intent behind the ban.


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