A Ukrainian minister said today that gay pop star Elton John will not be allowed to adopt a child from the country because he is not married and is too old.

The star visited an orphanage last week and said the experience had changed his mind about adopting. He added that one little boy, whose parents had died of AIDS, had “stolen my heart”.

Although Sir Elton and his partner David Furnish are in a civil partnership, Ukraine does not recognise this as marriage.

In addition, family, youth and sports minister Yuriy Pavlenko told Associated Press that at 62, the star is too old as there cannot be more than a 45-year age gap between a child and an adoptive parent.

Sir Elton and Furnish have already come under fire from various adoption charities.

Save the Children UK said that international adopting can set a dangerous precedent in encouraging poor parents to give up their children in the hope of a better life for them.

In July, Ukraine hit the pink press for banning the film Bruno, which features a gay journalist.

The country’s culture ministry said that the film included an “artistically unjustified exhibition of sexual organs and sexual relations, homosexual acts in a blatantly graphic form, obscene language, sadism [and] anti-social behaviour which could damage the moral upbringing of our citizens.”