The Scottish Parliament has given its backing to a new law allowing gay couples to adopt.

Despite calls from the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland to oppose the bill, MSPs backed the principles of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill by 103 votes to eight, with eight abstentions, potentially giving unmarried couples and gay partners the right to adopt children.

The bill aims to counter a significant reduction in families available for vulnerable children by allowing gay and unmarried couples to adopt.

It proposes measures to make the process of adoption easier and to provide better protection.

The Bishop of Motherwell, Joseph Devine, is a vocal opponent of the law, he has regularly made statements stressing that traditional heterosexual family units are the best prospect for the emotional and psychological well-being of a child and that the gay adoption bill should be scrapped.

Present laws only allow one partner in an unmarried couple to adopt.

The bill now goes on the next stage for detailed amendments.