A Northern Ireland High Court judge has ruled that a ban on gay and unmarried couples adopting children is unlawful and discriminatory.

Justice Seamus Treacy said the rule unjustifiably targeted those in civil partnerships.

Currently, single gay or lesbian people can adopt in Northern Ireland but a couple in a civil partnership cannot.

The ruling was in response to a challenge to adoption laws brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

“Not only do they suffer the same discrimination that unmarried opposite sex couples experience when applying to adopt jointly, they also suffer unjustifiable discriminatory treatment when compared against individual members of an opposite sex couple who can apply to adopt as an individual,” Treacy said in his ruling.

“This is despite the fact that the commitment evinced by choosing to enter a civil partnership ought to be similar to marriage in indicating the security of that relationship.”

Treacy said he could find no basis for the contention that the current eligibility criteria served the best interests of the child, a statement from the Judicial Communications Office added.

He said excluding people from the whole adoption process on the sole basis of their relationship status could only serve to narrow the pool of potential adopters.

Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots (pictured) has already announced he will challenge the landmark ruling to overturn the ban.

“It is my intention to urgently appeal this judgment and I am taking this action with a heavy heart,” Poots said in a statement.

An evangelical Protestant, Poots is opposed to same-sex relationships and also rejects the theory of evolution.

© Star Observer 2022 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.