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Northern Ireland has lowest same-sex adoption success rate in UK

Patrick Kelleher December 15, 2018
Northern Ireland has lowest same-sex adoption success rate in UK

Statue of Edward Carson outside the Parliament Building in Northern Ireland (Charles McQuillan/Getty)

Just 30 couples have applied to adopt in Northern Ireland, and just two have been approved since the law was changed to allow same-sex couples to adopt in the territory in 2013.

BBC News reports that the success rate for same-sex couples who apply to adopt in the region is just one in 15, compared to one in two in the rest of the UK.

In the rest of the UK, 481 same-sex couples applied to adopt, with 235 having a child successfully placed with them.

The figures – which were released by the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Trusts – indicate that same-sex adoption may not yet be equal across the UK.

A Department of Health spokesperson told the BBC that the lower success rate may be because the adoption process can take several years to complete, and some adopters might still be in the process as the law was only amended in 2013.

The Northern Ireland Director of Adoption UK, EJ Havlin, also told the BBC that the late change in law in Northern Ireland – which became the last territory in the UK to legalise same-sex adoption – might also have delayed proceedings.

“Whenever this legislation first came in the changes happened almost overnight, so unlike the ‘bedding in’ period which happened in the rest of the UK, the changes overnight meant that social services needed to get some support and training,” she said.

Same-sex adoption in Northern Ireland

Same-sex couples won the right to adopt after a High Court ruling in 2012 and a Court of Appeal ruling in 2013 that the ban was discriminatory and a breach of human rights.

While same-sex adoption was only legalised in Northern Ireland in 2013, it was legalised in England and Wales in 2005 and Scotland in 2006.

Northern Ireland has lowest same-sex adoption success rate in UK
PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty

In 2012, when the High Court ruled that the ban was a breach of human rights, the NIHRC Chief Commissioner Professor Michael O’Flaherty said it was a victory for gay rights.

“The Human Rights Commission welcomes today’s landmark ruling,” he said at the time. “Through this case the commission has sought to protect the best interests of the child.

“Given the high numbers of children in care, who need a family in Northern Ireland, the importance of this case in widening the pool of prospective parents cannot be overstated. We are therefore delighted with this outcome,” he added.

Same-sex adoption is not the only issue that Northern Ireland has remained separate from the rest of the UK on.

Northern Ireland: same-sex marriage is still not recognised

Same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland is still not legally recognised, despite same-sex couples having the right to marry in the rest of the UK.

Earlier this year, a poll found that fewer than one in five people in Northern Ireland oppose same-sex marriage.

The Sky Data poll showed that 76 percent of people in Northern Ireland think same-sex marriage should be legal, with just 18 percent – less than one in five – opposed.

The poll demonstrates a surge in support on the issue, climbing from 68 percent support in 2015.

There is also a political majority for equality in the country, with the Northern Ireland Assembly previously passing an equal marriage bill that was only hindered by the DUP employing a peace process power known as a ‘petition of concern’ to block it.

Following the poll, campaigners reasserted pressure on the UK government to introduce equal marriage in Northern Ireland and bring the region into line with the rest of the UK.

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