The number of children adopted by gay and lesbian couples rose significantly last year, according to official figures.
The Department for Education revealed that 330 children were adopted by same sex couples in 2014. Of those, 180 were adopted by male couples and 150 were adopted by female couples.
These numbers are almost three times higher than they were four years ago, when only 120 children were adopted by same sex couples. Despite this increase, these cases still represent a small percentage of the total number of adoptions in the UK. Only one in every 20 adoptions in England and Wales involves a gay couple.
Meanwhile, the Irish government is moving ahead with plans to legalise same sex adoption. The change in the law will come as part of the Children and Family Relationships Bill. The new legislation is designed to “modernise” the legal system to recognise how diverse families have become. Other aspects of the bill focus on unmarried and cohabiting couples who have children or want to adopt. It is expected to be published in February and come into force before the gay marriage referendum in May.
Currently, gay people in Ireland who want to adopt can only do so as individuals. As a result, their partners have few legal rights in relation to the child.
Elsewhere in Europe, the Austrian Constitutional Court has overturned the country’s ban on same sex adoption, and a new law which would allow gay couples to adopt is set to be introduced in the Portuguese Parliament.