Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots has announced he will challenge a landmark ruling to overturn the ban that prevents gay couples in civil partnerships from adopting in the country.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Justice Treacy at Belfast High Court ruled the ban was discriminatory and violated European human rights laws on privacy and discrimination.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, who initially brought the case, welcomed the decision.

However, according to the BBC, in a statement Edwin Poots said: “It is my intention to urgently appeal this judgment and I am taking this action with a heavy heart.

“I have already publicly declared my intention to reform Northern Ireland adoption law because reform is much needed and long overdue.

“This judicial review has already delayed plans to introduce a new Adoption and Children Bill in the [Northern Ireland] Assembly and I fear that this will lead to further delay.”

Mr Poots has been described as an “evangelical Protestant” who remains opposed to same-sex relationships. He also rejects the theory of evolution.

John O’Doherty, the director of Northern Ireland’s Rainbow Project, criticised Mr Poots’ decision to seek an appeal and accused the minister of allowing his “personal prejudices to influence his public responsibilities.”

Earlier this year, Mr Poots angered equality campaigners after he decided to retain Northern Ireland’s blanket ban that prevents gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

England, Wales and Scotland changed the law in November 2011 and opted for a 1-year deferral, meaning gay and bisexual can donate providing they remain celibate for 12 months.