A former health minister’s ban on the donation of blood from gay men in Northern Ireland was “infected by apparent bias”, a court has ruled.
A judge also backed claims from lawyers for a gay man that Edwin Poots’ stance was influenced by Christian beliefs.
The High Court ruling strengthens a previous finding in October 2013that the ban was irrational.
Mr Poots, who is to appeal that ruling, was replaced as Stormont’s health minister last year.
The gay blood ban, put in place during the 1980s AIDS threat, was lifted in England, Scotland and Wales in November 2011.
It was replaced by new rules which allow donations from gay men who had not had sexual contact with another man for more than a year.
But Mr Poots maintained the prohibition in Northern Ireland on the basis of ensuring public safety.
The minister has consistently rejected claims that his position may have been influenced by religious views.
But lawyers for the gay man who brought the challenge, introduced remarks made by Mr Poots in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The DUP MLA was recorded as saying: “There is a continual battering of Christian principles, and I have to say this – shame on the courts, for going down the route of constantly attacking Christian principles, Christian ethics and Christian morals, on which this society was based and which have given us a very good foundation.”
The judge cited a news article from 2001 in which Mr Poots spoke of the rights of those receiving donations to be told they were getting “clean blood” uncontaminated by the HIV virus.
He added: “The minister’s very troubling lack of candour and his attempt to conceal the fact that he had made a decision are plainly circumstances that are material to whether a fair-minded and informed observer would conclude that there was a real possibility of bias.”
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