A new survey conducted for National Adoption Week has found that a significant minority of British people oppose adoptions by gay people and single people.

43% think that single men shouldn’t be allowed to adopt and two in five people, 40%, think that male gay couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt.

36% thought that female gay couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt, according to a survey of more than 1000 adults released by children’s charity, Action for Children.

In 2005 a change in the law allowed unmarried couples, gay and straight, to jointly adopt.

The Sexual Orientation Regulations 2007 outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, facilities and services, including adoption.

The Times reports that 3,200 children were adopted in England in the year to March 2008 and of these, 90 were with gay couples.

Roman Catholic adoption agencies were given a two-year window in which to comply with the new rules, which runs out at the end of this year.

More than eight in 10 (87 per cent) who thought that gay couples or single people shouldn’t be allowed to adopt said that it was because they thought that children need both a male and female role model.

Meanwhile over three quarters (76 per cent) felt it would lead to the breakdown of the traditional family and would not be in the best interests of the child.

Susan Cotton, Adoption Manager at Action for Children, said:

“These findings are shocking and disappointing. We accept adoption applications from people from all walks of life. We don’t discriminate based on gender, sexuality or relationship status, but rather we judge on the ability to provide safe, secure and permanent homes to vulnerable children.

“Families in the 21st century come in all shapes and sizes. We have successfully placed children with both gay couples and single people. We know it works. We look at the needs of individual children and find families that can best meet those needs.

“It is the child that matters not the relationship status of potential parents. Our worry is that people won’t come forward and adopt because of the opinions of others.”

ICM interviewed a random sample of 1007 adults aged 18+ by telephone between 17-19 October 2008. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.