Gay and unmarried couples are now free to adoption children in Northern Ireland, following a ban being finally lifted today (11 December).
They can now apply in the same way as straight couples.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘Following the Court of Appeal judgement in June 2013, unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, and those in a civil partnership may apply to adopt.
‘The final decision regarding the granting of an adoption order will lie with the court.’
Health Minister Edwin Poots had tried to challenge the Court of Appeal’s decision in June that legislation banning gay couples from adoption was unlawful.
He claimed it was ‘natural order’ for a man and a woman to raise a child.
But now the Supreme Court has overturned the Department of Health’s decision, saying their argument does not meet the criteria.
Terry McFarlane, secretary of Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association, said it was a ‘happy day’, but he had reservations.
‘It brings us into line with everyone else. What would be great to see is the implementation of it.
‘We’ve already had the situation where the [Court of Appeal] ruled we would have it, and we didn’t.
‘What we haven’t had is the follow through, and we’ll have to see whether the First Minister will finally allow us to have adoption.’
While a single gay person could adopt children in Northern Ireland, a couple in a civil partnership were banned.
Northern Ireland joins England, Scotland and Wales, the rest of the UK, in allowing gay couples to adopt.