A law allowing gay couples in Scotland to adopt passed yesterday, overcoming religious opposition and a last minute attempt to amend it.

Despite calls from the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland to oppose the bill, MSPs backed the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill by 101 votes to six.

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.

Roseanna Cunningham, an SNP member of the Scottish Parliament, had tabled a motion which would prevent gay couples from adopting, but it was rejected by Holyrood.

Previously only one partner in an unmarried couple was allowed to adopt.