Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Judge backs gay adoptions
Gay couples have been campaigning for change
Top family law judge Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss has said she supports the adoption of children by gay couples.
The newly appointed president of the Family Division at the High Court said: "We live in a different world to that when I started in the law.
"I was, when I started, surprised and dubious about the stability of children living in a family with two parents of the same sex.
"Consequently it would be quite wrong when looking at the welfare of the child not to recognise that different children will need different types of parents.
"We should not close our minds to suitable families who are clearly not within the old fashioned approach."
She added: "We should not treat the child in isolation but look at the needs of the child within the family."
Although Dame Elizabeth was not suggesting a change in the law - adoption by gay couples is illegal - her comments could make it easier for some single gay men and women to secure adoptions.
'Crime against children'
Dame Elizabeth's announcement provoked anger among pro-family groups.
Dr Adrian Rogers, of Family Focus, said adoption by gay couples was harmful to children and fundamentally wrong.
"A child has a right to be brought up by a male and a female," he said.
"Children learn by observation so to deprive children of those traditional role models is a crime against children and against human rights."
But Angela Mason, Executive Director of Stonewall, welcomed Dame Elizabeth's comments.
"The question, as always, for the courts and for government, is how all of us as parents and as society can do the best for our children," she said.
"It does not help children who are looking to be fostered or adopted to assume some families are better than others."