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Belfast judge: Gay couples can adopt

Thursday, October 18, 2012 | 8:23 AM    

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BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) -- A Belfast judge has ruled that unmarried and same-sex couples in Northern Ireland should be allowed to adopt children, overturning a 1987 adoption law that discriminated against both groups.

Gay rights groups praised Thursday's judgment on a lawsuit pursued by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission against the government.

Belfast High Court Justice Seamus Treacy ruled that the law clearly violated European human rights laws on privacy and discrimination.

Other parts of the United Kingdom already permit gay and unmarried heterosexual couples to adopt children. But Northern Ireland's law restricted applicants to married couples and single adults, including homosexuals.

Northern Ireland, like the rest of the UK, legalised civil partnerships for gay people in 2005.

About 2,500 children in Northern Ireland are in state care awaiting adoption

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