Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots says “It is not a human right to adopt a child for either a mixed-sex couple or a same-sex couple.”

The DUP evangelical Christian Assembly Member is trying to maintain a ban on same-sex couples adopting in Northern Ireland – even though the policy was declared unlawful in October 2012.

Mr Poots has used £40,000 of public money in order to fund a legal challenge.

In comments to the BBC, Mr Poots said: “I think we should be cautious about changing the system which actually provides the stability those children need.

“It is not a human right to adopt a child for either a mixed-sex couple or a same-sex couple.”

Mr Poots believes the majority of people in Northern Ireland remain opposed to adoption rights for same-sex couples.

“What I look at it is where the Northern Ireland public are on these issues and what is in the best interests of the children,” he said.

“There is a lot of public opposition to it.”

His comments came as a gay couple living in County Antrim revealed they had been urged by a social worker to adopt their two boys from England – in order to bypass Northern Ireland’s gay adoption ban.

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