The U.K. Supreme Court rejected an attempt by Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots to overturn a June court ruling in favor of allowing same-sex and unmarried couples to adopt.
"The Supreme Court of the U.K. has refused permission to appeal the Court of Appeal's decision in this matter," a spokesman for the Supreme Court said.
Currently a single gay or lesbian person from Northern Ireland has the right to adopt, but a couple in a civil partnership cannot.
According to Pink News, Poots has spent over £40,000 of taxpayer funds to fight the 2012 ruling that would end the ban. The minister is simultaneously fighting a repeal of the ban that bars gay men in Northern Ireland from donating blood.
The suit was filed by an anonymous lesbian woman who wants to adopt her partner's biological child. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) is backing the woman and her case, which was successful in a lower court in 2012. A Court Of Appeals turned down Poots' back in June, which led to this Supreme Court rejection.
This appeal does not make adoption by gay couples legal yet, but it does set that effort in motion. A member of the The Social Democratic and Labour Party told the BBC that "The Minister must confirm that legislation will now be brought forward to rectify this situation. I believe not to do so would mean that the Minister is not fulfilling the requirements of his office and he would be left with no alternative but to depart that office."