The UK Supreme Court has rejected an attempt to overturn a court ruling in favour of same-sex and unmarried couples adopting children in Northern Ireland.

The appeal had been brought by Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots.

Having unsuccessfully taken his case to the highest court in the land, equality campaigners and potential same-sex adoptive parents in Northern Ireland will hope today’s ruling means Mr Poot’s legal fight against them is at an end.

A spokesman for the UK’s top court on Wednesday said: “The Supreme Court of the UK has refused permission to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision in this matter.”

At present a single gay or lesbian person in Northern Ireland can adopt, but a couple in a civil partnership cannot.

In October 2012, Mr Justice Treacy of Belfast High Court ruled Northern Ireland’s ban had discriminated against same-sex couples in civil partnerships and also breached their right to family life.

Hours later Mr Poots confirmed that he was formally going to appeal the decision.

The Court of Appeal in Belfast dismissed Mr Poot’s challenge in June 2013.

In July it was revealed that the DUP Assembly Member had used £40,000 of public money in order to fund his appeal.

For the past year, Mr Poots has embarked on a similarly expensive legal challenge against removing the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood.

Mr Poots was told earlier this month by Belfast High Court that he’d breached the ministerial code in continuing with the ban.

It now falls to UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to quash the ban in Northern Ireland.

Responding to Tuesday’s adoption ruling, Director of The Rainbow Project, John O’Doherty, said: “This ruling once again proves that the Minister has wasted public funds trying to defend the indefensible. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or marital status is not in the best interest of children. The cost of this case is not just financial but has had a negative impact on the health and well-being of countless families”.

“Young people in care deserve a loving and caring home and assessments should be left to social workers and other professionals working in this field”.

He concluded: “We hope that this ruling brings an end to this discriminatory practice in Northern Ireland and that the Minister takes immediate steps to uphold the decision by the High Court”.