The UK's supreme court has ruled that the health minister has no grounds for an appeal of a ruling allowing gay and unmarried couples to adopt in Northern Ireland, the BBC reports.
The ruling raises the hopes of advocacy groups and prospective gay parents that Edwin Poots will now abandon his dogged challenge against the ban's removal.
After Belfast's high court ruled last year that the gay adoption ban was discriminatory, Poots appealed the decision. The court of appeal dismissed his challenge in June. Poots sought to appeal that ruling as well, but the supreme court also rejected the challenge.
In a July report, Pink News says it was revealed in a letter to the Northern Ireland Assembly that Poots's legal challenge amounted to £40,000.
John O'Doherty, of The Rainbow Project, says the supreme court's decision not to permit the appeal is further proof that Poots has squandered public funds "trying to defend the indefensible."
He adds, "The cost of this case is not just financial but has had a negative impact on the health and well-being of countless families."
The BBC quotes Alliance Party MLA Kieran McCarthy as saying that Poots's position as health minister has been "seriously undermined by successive legal failures over adoption by civil partners."
Poots has also supported Northern Ireland's retention of a gay blood ban, even as England, Wales and Scotland now allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood provided they have not have had sex with men for a year.