Legislation to outlaw homophobic discrimination in Isle of Man to be accelerated after lesbian couple prevented from
renting a house

Chief Minister to speed up law to outlaw homophobic discrimination after church leader refuses pair a flat

Legislation to outlaw homophobic discrimination on the Isle of Man will be accelerated after a gay couple were told they could not rent a house together.

The island’s Chief Minister Alan Bell moved to limit any damage to the jurisdiction’s international reputation following fury at a church leader’s refusal to allow two women to move into a flat together on the grounds that the couple did not constitute a “family”.

Mr Bell described the beliefs of the Independent Methodist Church - of which the landlord of the property in Ramsey was a member - as “bigoted” and warned that the row threatened to reverse two decades in which the island has battled to leave behind its pariah status among the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender communities.

Homosexuality was illegal under Manx law until 1992. The row erupted last week when Kira Izzard and Laura Cull were refused permission to rent a flat next door to Ms Cull’s sister and her three-year-old son.

She said they felt “numb” on learning that they had been legally declined the tenancy. “I was so shocked to hear this and felt sick as I didn’t know where to go or what to do as I didn’t have a legal leg to stand on,” she said.

The couple, who have been together for four years, were told that even though the Isle of Man had enacted the Civil Partnership Act it had yet to ratify an Equality Bill which would make it illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation.

The local minister who refused the tenancy application defended his action.

Keith Price said: “We are not homophobic but we do have a stance on the sexuality." He added: “We believe that God has a plan for our lives within the context of marriage, the scripture is quite clear in its teaching on this.”

Mr Bell described the decision as “ugly, outdated prejudice” but admitted that nothing could be done about it.

“I do believe that our society today is generally much more tolerant than it used to be. But this incident shows that there are still isolated pockets of bigotry that can only be tackled through legislation. An Equality Bill, based on the UK Equality Act of 2010, is already in the drafting process and will deal with discrimination of this kind. I have asked that preparation of this legislation be accelerated,” he said.

Ms Izzard welcomed the official response to their plight after they were inundated with support on social network sites after launching an on-line petition demanding a change in the law.

“We’re over the moon that we’ve been heard by so many people and that the government are taking this matter seriously and accelerating the process,” she said.

 Rob McDowall, the Chair of the LGBT Network which helped co-ordinate the campaign described it as a historic moment for LGBT rights in the Isle of Man.

“Discrimination in all its forms is intolerable and I am delighted the Chief Minister agrees and has pledged his commitment to speeding up the legislative process to realise equality for the Isle of Man’s LGBTQ community,” he said.

As a Crown dependency the Isle of Man is able to pass its own primary legislation although it is contracted within the European Convention on Human Rights. However, a number of male homosexual acts remain illegal under Manx law including consensual sex between men aboard a merchant ship.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test