LGBT rights in the Isle of Man

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LGBT rights in the Isle of Man
The Isle of Man.svg
Location of the  Isle of Man  (red)

in the British Isles  (red & grey)

Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1992, age of consent equal since 2006
Military service UK military since 2000
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
Civil partnerships since 2011; Same-sex marriage since 2016
Adoption Full adoption rights since 2011

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in the Isle of Man have become substantially more liberal since the early 2000s. Most acts of male homosexuality on the island ceased to be contrary to the law in 1992. LGBT people's rights have been extended and recognised in law, such as an equal age of consent (2006), employment protection from discrimination (2006), gender identity recognition (2009), the right to enter into a civil partnership, the right to adopt children (2011) and the right to enter into a marriage (2016).

While not part of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man has also followed the UK's example in incorporating the European Convention on Human Rights into its own laws through the Human Rights Act 2001.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Prior to September 1992, same-sex sexual activity was a criminal offence. After decriminalisation, the age of consent was set at 21, which at that time was the same age as in the United Kingdom; in 2001, the age of consent for male homosexuals was lowered to eighteen by the Criminal Justice Act 2001 (c.4)[1] In 2006, by the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2006 (c.3), the age of consent was lowered again to sixteen, becoming gender-neutral for all sexual conduct, regardless of gender and sexual orientation.[2][3][4] However, the Isle of Man retains specific offences in its criminal law for some male homosexuality.[5]

Section 9 of the Sexual Offences Act 1992 continues to apply the criminal law to some "unnatural offenses" between men. Sub-sections (1) and (4) make "buggery" and "gross indecency" between men offences if one or both of the parties is under sixteen and also if the acts are committed "elsewhere than in private." The meaning of this is defined in Section 10: not in private means that "more than two persons are present" or that the location is "any place to which the public have or are permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise."[5][6]

Gender identity/expression[edit]

Transgender persons are allowed to change their legal gender and to have their new gender recognised as a result of the Gender Recognition Act 2009 (c.11).[7][8]

Recognition of same-sex unions[edit]

Same-sex unions can be recognised as a civil partnership or as a marriage. The Isle of Man legislature legalized civil partnerships in April 2011 and did so for same-sex marriages in July 2016.

Civil partnerships[edit]

Since 2011, same-sex couples have been provided with civil partnerships.[9] The Civil Partnership Bill 2011 passed all stages of both the House of Keys and the Legislative Council and was signed into law on 15 March 2011. The Civil Partnership Act 2011 (c. 2) took effect on 6 April 2011.[10][11][12][13] It was decided in 2014 that same-sex marriages from England, Wales and Scotland as well as other relationships performed abroad will be treated as civil partnerships on the island.[14]

When the legislature legalized same-sex marriage in 2016 (see below), the legislation to that effect also permitted opposite-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships.[15]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

On 9 June 2015, Chief Minister Allan Bell announced his intention to repeal the law barring same-sex marriage on the island.[16] Following public consultation on the issue, a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the Isle was introduced to House of Keys on 2 February 2016.[17] The public consultation and government response was concluded by 22 January 2016[18] and the bill passed the third reading in the House on 8 March by a vote of 17–3.[19][15] Following a number of technical amendments at the Clauses stage, the bill passed the third reading in the Legislative Council on 26 April 2016 by a vote of 6–3.[20][21] The House of Keys unanimously approved the amendments to the bill on 10 May[22] and Royal Assent was announced on 19 July 2016.[23] The law went into effect on 22 July 2016.[24][25]

Adoption and family planning[edit]

By the Civil Partnership Act 2011 (c. 2), same-sex couples in the Isle of Man have been allowed equal access to full joint or step adoption since 6 April 2011.

Additionally, lesbian couples have access to artificial insemination.

Discrimination protections[edit]

Under the Employment Act 2006 (c. 21), taking effect on 1 September 2006, the Isle of Man adopted legislation which made it unlawful to dismiss employees on the grounds of their sexual orientation.[26][27] At the time, LGBT reports from the Isle of Man stated that the island's government was "falling behind", in line with European Human Rights decisions.[28]

In 2013, after a highly publicised case on the island involving a lesbian couple who were not allowed to rent a house by a church leader, Chief Minister Alan Bell announced that legislation to outlaw all forms of discrimination in goods and services would be introduced.[29] The draft of the Equality Bill 2015 is based on the English Equality Act 2010 and would replace all existing anti-discrimination laws into one piece of legislation.[30] Consultation on the Bill ended in November 2014.[31] In August 2015, the government published the response to the consultation.[32] The measure had its first reading in the 11 member Legislative Council on 8 March 2016.[33] The bill passed the second reading by a vote of 6-3 on 22 March.[34] 12 amendments to the bill were proposed within the clauses stage and all passed.[35][36][37] The bill passed the third reading by a vote of 5-4 on 14 June 2016.[38] The legislation was approved by the House of Keys on 7 March 2017, with amendments.[39] On 28 March, the Legislative Council concurred with amendments.[40] The bill awaits signature in the Tynwald Court and Royal Assent.

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1992)
Equal age of consent Yes (Since 2006)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes (Since 2006)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No (Equality Bill pending)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Recognition of same-sex couples Yes (Since 2011)
Same-sex marriages Yes (Since 2016)
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2011)
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No (Since 2011)
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Yes (Since 2000)
Right to change legal gender Yes (Since 2007)
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples Emblem-question.svg
Access to IVF for lesbians Yes (Since 2009)
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]


  4. ^ Gay sex at 16 legal, Man
  5. ^ a b Paul Johnson, Homosexual Offenses and Human Rights in Isle of Man,, accessed 14 January 2013
  8. ^ Gender recognition bill to provide protection to Isle of Man trans residents
  9. ^ "civil mem" (PDF). Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  10. ^ "Keys continues to support Civil Partnership Bill | Newsroom". 23 June 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  11. ^ "Civil Partnership Bill faces final hurdle - Isle of Man News". iomtoday. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  12. ^ Isle of Man gay couples get right to civil partnership
  14. ^ "Same-sex marriages to be treated as civil partnerships in Isle of Man". IOM Today. 24 June 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Perraudin, Frances (9 March 2016). "Isle of Man equal marriage law more progressive than UK, says Peter Tatchell". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2016. 
  16. ^ "Chief Minister looks to legalise same-sex marriage". 3FM. 9 June 2015. Archived from the original on 9 July 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2016. 
  17. ^ "Isle of Man to hold consultation on same-sex marriage proposals". ITV. 2 October 2015. Archived from the original on 3 December 2015. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  18. ^ "Response to the consultation on the draft Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill" (PDF). Isle of Man Government Cabinet Office. 22 January 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 January 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2016. 
  19. ^ "08 Mar 2016 House of Keys Hansard" (PDF). Tynwald. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2016. 
  20. ^ "Isle of Man same-sex marriage bill approved". BBC. 26 April 2016. Archived from the original on 28 April 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2016. 
  21. ^ Duffy, Nick (26 April 2016). "Isle of Man finally passes same-sex marriage". PinkNews. Archived from the original on 27 April 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2016. 
  22. ^ "10 May 2016 House of Keys Hansard" (PDF). Tynwald. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 May 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
  23. ^ "From Friday same-sex couples will be able to get married in the Isle of Man". IOMToday. 19 July 2016. Archived from the original on 19 July 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ EMPLOYMENT ACT 2006
  27. ^ "Gay employment rights are adopted". BBC News. 30 November 2005. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  28. ^ "Isle of Man - LGBT". Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  29. ^ Legislation to outlaw homophobic discrimination in Isle of Man to be accelerated after lesbian couple prevented from renting a house
  30. ^ New equality legislation pending in Isle of Man
  31. ^ Consultation Detail
  32. ^ Response to the consultation on the draft Equality Bill
  33. ^ 08 Mar 2016 Legislative Council Hansard
  34. ^ 22 Mar 2016 Legislative Council Hansard
  35. ^ 26 Apr 2016 Legislative Council Hansard
  36. ^ 03 May 2016 Legislative Council Hansard
  37. ^ 10 May 2016 Legislative Council Hansard
  38. ^ 14 Jun 2016 Legislative Council Hansard
  39. ^ 07 Mar 2017 House of Keys Hansard
  40. ^ 28 Mar 2017 Legislative Council Hansard