LGBT rights in the Isle of Man

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The Isle of Man.svg
Location of the Isle of Man (red)

in the British Isles (red & grey)

StatusLegal since 1992, age of consent equal since 2006
Gender identityRight to change legal gender since 2009
MilitaryUK responsible for defence
Discrimination protectionsSexual orientation and "gender reassignment" protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsCivil partnerships since 2011;
Same-sex marriage since 2016
AdoptionFull adoption rights since 2011
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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in the British Crown dependency of the Isle of Man have evolved substantially since the early 2000s. Private and consensual acts of male homosexuality on the island were decriminalised in 1992. LGBT rights have been extended and recognised in law since then, 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 (2011), the right to adopt children (2011) and the right to enter into a civil 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]

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]

Pardon scheme law[edit]

A reformed Sexual Offences and Obscene Publications Bill 2019 underwent a "community consultation period" until February 2019,[7] and was introduced to the Tynwald in October 2019. This proposed law will pardon historical gay sex offences committed prior to 1992 and is explicitly based on the UK's Alan Turing law of 2017.[8]

In October 2019, the Isle of Man House of Keys introduced and passed the bill at its second reading unanimously. It now heads to the clauses stage to be read out line by line in a committee.[9]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Same-sex unions can be recognised through civil partnerships or marriage. The Isle of Man Parliament legalized civil partnerships in April 2011 and same-sex marriages in July 2016.

Civil partnerships[edit]

Since 2011, same-sex couples have been provided with civil partnerships.[10] A civil partnership bill 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.[11][12][13][14] It was decided in 2014 that same-sex marriages from England, Wales and Scotland as well as other relationships performed abroad would be treated as civil partnerships on the island, until same-sex marriage is legalised.[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] A public consultation and government response was concluded by 22 January 2016,[18] and the bill passed its third reading in the House on 8 March by a vote of 17–3.[19][20] Following a number of technical amendments at the clauses stage, the bill passed its third reading in the Legislative Council on 26 April 2016 by a vote of 6–3.[21][22] The House of Keys unanimously approved the amendments to the bill on 10 May,[23] and royal assent was granted on 19 July 2016.[24] The law went into effect on 22 July 2016.[25][26]

The first same-sex marriage to be registered on the Isle of Man was that of Marc and Alan Steffan-Cowell, who converted their civil partnership into a marriage on 25 July 2016.[27] The first same-sex marriage to be performed on the island occurred on 30 July, between Luke Carine and Zak Tomlinson.[28]

Adoption and family planning[edit]

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

Additionally, lesbian couples have access to artificial insemination.

Discrimination protections[edit]

Under the Employment Act 2006 (c. 21), which took 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.[29][30] At the time, LGBT reports from the Isle of Man stated that the island's Government was "falling behind".[31]

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.[32] A draft bill, based on the British Equality Act 2010, would replace all existing anti-discrimination laws into one piece of legislation.[33] Consultation on the bill ended in November 2014.[34] In August 2015, the Government published its response to the consultation.[35] The measure had its first reading in the 11-member Legislative Council on 8 March 2016.[36] The bill passed its second reading by a vote of 6-3 on 22 March.[37] 12 amendments to the bill were proposed within the clauses stage and all passed.[38][39][40] The bill passed its third reading by a vote of 5-4 on 14 June 2016.[41] The legislation was approved by the House of Keys on 7 March 2017, with amendments.[42] On 28 March, the Legislative Council concurred with the amendments.[43] Royal assent was granted on 18 July 2017.[44] The Equality Act 2017 was phased in, with much of the law having come into force on 1 January 2019.[45][46]

The Equality Act 2017 (Manx: Slattys Cormid 2017) lists age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation as protected characteristics and grounds of non-discrimination.[46] Sexual orientation is defined as "a person's inherent romantic or sexual attraction towards persons of the same sex, persons of the opposite sex, or persons of either sex". In addition, "not being romantically or sexually attracted to persons of either sex is also a sexual orientation".[46]

Gender identity and 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).[47][48]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1992)
Equal age of consent (16) Yes (Since 2006)
Gay sex criminal offences expungement or pardon scheme No (Pending)[9]
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes (Since 2006)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes (Since 2019)[46]
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes (Since 2019)
Anti-discrimination laws concerning gender identity Yes (Since 2019 - Equality Act 2017 refers to "gender reassignment" and "transgender person")[46]
Recognition of same-sex couples Yes (Since 2011)
Same-sex marriages Yes (Since 2016)
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2011)
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No (Since 2011)
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military Yes (Since 2000)
Right to change legal gender Yes (Since 2009)
Access to IVF for lesbian couples Yes (Since 2009)
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No (Banned for heterosexual couples as well)
MSMs allowed to donate blood No (Under review since 2014)[49]

See also[edit]


  4. ^ Gay sex at 16 legal, Man
  6. ^ Paul Johnson, Homosexual Offenses and Human Rights in Isle of Man,, accessed 14 January 2013
  7. ^ "Public views sought on new Sexual Offences Bill". Isle of Man Government. 10 December 2018.
  8. ^ "'A pardon is the logical end-line for gay rights debate'". Manx Radio. 10 January 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Gay convictions can be cleared under new bill". Manx Radio. 23 October 2019.
  10. ^ "civil mem" (PDF). Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  11. ^ "Keys continues to support Civil Partnership Bill | Newsroom". 23 June 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  12. ^ "Civil Partnership Bill faces final hurdle - Isle of Man News". iomtoday. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  13. ^ Isle of Man gay couples get right to civil partnership
  15. ^ "Same-sex marriages to be treated as civil partnerships in Isle of Man". IOM Today. 24 June 2014. Archived from the original on 10 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. ^ 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.
  21. ^ "Isle of Man same-sex marriage bill approved". BBC. 26 April 2016. Archived from the original on 28 April 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ "10 May 2016 House of Keys Hansard" (PDF). Tynwald. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 May 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  24. ^ "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.
  25. ^ Same-sex marriage comes into force on the Isle of Man
  26. ^ Same-sex marriage legal from today
  27. ^ "First same-sex marriage conversion on Isle of Man 'huge milestone'". BBC News. 28 July 2016. Archived from the original on 29 July 2016.
  28. ^ "Three cheers for the gay marriage that ended the Isle of Man's dark history of bigotry". The Guardian. 31 July 2016.
  29. ^ EMPLOYMENT ACT 2006
  30. ^ "Gay employment rights are adopted". BBC News. 30 November 2005. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  31. ^ "Isle of Man - LGBT". Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  32. ^ Legislation to outlaw homophobic discrimination in Isle of Man to be accelerated after lesbian couple prevented from renting a house
  33. ^ New equality legislation pending in Isle of Man
  34. ^ Consultation Detail
  35. ^ Response to the consultation on the draft Equality Bill
  36. ^ 08 Mar 2016 Legislative Council Hansard
  37. ^ 22 Mar 2016 Legislative Council Hansard
  38. ^ 26 Apr 2016 Legislative Council Hansard
  39. ^ 03 May 2016 Legislative Council Hansard
  40. ^ 10 May 2016 Legislative Council Hansard
  41. ^ 14 Jun 2016 Legislative Council Hansard
  42. ^ 07 Mar 2017 House of Keys Hansard
  43. ^ 28 Mar 2017 Legislative Council Hansard
  44. ^ 18 Jul 2017 Tynwald Court Hansard
  45. ^ Equality law is passed at last
  46. ^ a b c d e "Equality Act 2017" (PDF).
  48. ^ Gender recognition bill to provide protection to Isle of Man trans residents
  49. ^ MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) and donating blood