MPs approve adoption by gay couples

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Indy Politics

MPs voted overwhelmingly yesterday to allow unmarried and gay couples to adopt children.

MPs voted overwhelmingly yesterday to allow unmarried and gay couples to adopt children.

In a free vote, the Commons backed the move by 288 to 133 votes. The decision, which followed months of lobbying by children's and adoption groups, sets MPs on a collision course with the Lords.

On Monday MPs opposed to gay adoption will make a final attempt to restrict adoption rights to heterosexual couples, whether married or unmarried.

Last night Tony Blair, whose father, Leo, was fostered out as a baby, led demands for a change in the law, deemed necessary to reduce the backlog of 5,000 children awaiting adoption.

But in a stormy Commons debate, the Tories and some Labour MPs complained the move had been driven by politically correct dogma. Privately, the Government, which has been keen to play down adoption changes as a gay rights issue, fears that it could become "another Section 28" in the House of Lords. A senior source said: "We are not going to go the wall on this."

Opening the debate, David Hinchliffe, the Labour chairman of the Commons Health Select Committee, told of his experience of placing a child with lesbian foster parents during his time at Leeds City Council. He said: "I understand that child was subsequently adopted by one of the women involved ... I would appeal to members to understand we are here to deal with the best interests of the child and that should be paramount."

The Tories, on a three-line whip to oppose the move, insisted that statistical evidence demonstrated that unmarried couples were more than six times more likely to split up than their married counterparts.

Felicity Collier, of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, said afterwards: "We know more people will now be considering whether they can offer a waiting child the love and security which adoption uniquely brings."

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