Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots plans to spend even more public money in his fight against allowing same-sex couples the right to adopt.

In July it was revealed the DUP Assembly Member had used £40,000 of public funds in order to fund a legal challenge to prevent same-sex couples from being allowed to adopt children in Northern Ireland.

Mr Poots, an evangelical Protestant who remains opposed to same-sex relationships, has been given leave by the Court of Appeal in Belfast to appeal its ruling that any ban on gay and lesbian couples adopting is unlawful.

The case is now expected to go before the UK Supreme Court in London.

Earlier today the Court of Appeal in Belfast refused to support Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin QC’s request for clarification on the issue.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, sitting with Lord Justices Girvan and Coghlin, said: “We consider we should leave this to the Supreme Court to make a decision.”

Under the current rules, single gay or lesbian persons can adopt children in NI, but a couple in a civil partnership cannot.

Any unmarried person in Northern Ireland is at present eligible for consideration but strictly as an individual.

Representatives of HERE NI, a community organisation and registered charity based in Belfast that supports lesbian and bisexual women and their families across Northern Ireland said that they were extremely disappointed at the decision.

Project Co-ordinator, Cara McCann told PinkNews.co.uk: “Here NI are extremely disappointed at the decision to grant leave to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to enable them to appeal to the Supreme Court. Once again same-sex couples are being treated as second class citizens. The women who engage with Here NI are forming their own families but unfortunately there is no legal framework to support many of these families.”