Are dark days of intolerance over?

The Isle of Man may have come a long way since the dark days of the early 90s to evolve into a caring, inclusive and forward-looking society.

But comments from some MHKs during a House of Keys debate on the Civil Partnerships Bill suggested the Island has some way to go yet.

The aim of the Bill, as explained by Allan Bell (Ramsey), is to allow same-sex couples to make a formal legal commitment to each other.

But he stressed a civil partnership was not the same as a civil marriage ceremony. 'It is not gay marriage by another name,' he told MHKs. 'We are not moving to impose an alien lifestyle. It's simply a first step towards providing equality and fairness.'

But there were soon voices of indignation from those who felt as a matter of conscience that they could not support the Bill.

Most critical was Geoff Corkish (Douglas West) who said there was no public clamour for such a change.

He said he would stick to his 'fuddy duddy view' that the only 'proper marriage' was one between a man and a woman.

'I don't want to appear prissy but I'm being honest to myself and many people will share my view. I speak as a member of the human race. The Isle of Man is not ready for this.'

David Anderson (Glenfaba) said he spoke on behalf of people of faith who believed legislation should be based around 'traditional family values.'

He said that anyone with a Christian perspective felt restricted in speaking their mind for fear of being labelled a zealot and lambasted by the press.

Mr Anderson said in some respects the Bill gave more rights and superior benefits to same sex-couples than those in traditional marriages.

David Cannan (Michael) said he had no objection to two men or two women living together 'as long as they don't impose their lifestyle on me'.

But he drew a line at the Bill allowing same-sex couples to adopt. 'A child should be able to be brought up in a natural environment,' he said.

Bill Malarkey (Douglas South) said that 20 years ago he would have been outraged by the Bill but the Island had moved in the right direction and had moved with it.

Mr Bell said that same sex couples suffered from a range of disadvantages because of a lack of legal recognition including property, maintenance and wills.

Mr Bell said there had been a long history of intolerance in the Isle of Man towards minorities.

He recalled the early 90s as the bitter debate on the decriminalisation of homosexuality sparked 'absolutely outrageous' aggression outside the Chamber and led to a number of young people losing their lives, driven by despair to commit suicide.

Mr Bell said certain venues would be approved for the registration of civil partnerships.

He said one of the partners may have been married before and had a child as a result. Removal of adoption restrictions would allow the child to be absorbed into the family unit.

Bringing up a child in an abusive family or where drug addiction or alcoholism was rife would be 'vastly more disadvantageous' to the child, he told MHKs.

Quintin Gill (Rushen) said the Island had a 'very unfortunate history of bigotry'.

He said he had received two letters of objection based on faith, one which was from Roy Richardson of the Grace Baptist Church in Peel who asked: 'Who knows where it will all end?'

'It will end when people are treated with equality and inclusion,' answered Mr Gill.

Peter Karran (Lib Vannin, Onchan) welcomed the Bill but said he would like to see it go further to include gay marriage. 'It's a step in the right direction,' he said.

The Bill was given its second reading by 19 votes to three with only Mr Anderson, Mr Corkish and John Houghton (Douglas North) voting against.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Bell told the Manx Independent he was disappointed by some of the comments made in the House. 'Homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice – it's something you're born with.'


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Remember, the key part of what Mr Allan Bell said was "It's simply a first step.." We've come across quite a few of these 'first steps'. This is how all campaigns work when they are forcing through an agenda that very few people support. If you don't believe it, just look at the European Union's remorseless march through national sovereignty and freedoms. Bit by bit, the 'salami-slicer' carves away the values and liberties that you hold dear. By his own admission, Mr Bell and his supporters have a great many 'steps' planned for the Island. If you let this one pass, you'd better loosen up your gag reflex, or you'll soon find yourself choking on all sorts of 'steps' that are even less acceptable.

JR, Ramsey

The answer is probably no! The IOM has not followed the UK lead on this matter (as it usually does). Mr Corkish is typical example of the mindset of our out of touch polititians (Most of them)and shows others looking in how old fashioned our leadership views are. Generally they seem to belong to a generation where gays were stoned in the village square or had the red hot poker treatment. David Cannan has again adopted what is probably the opinion of the masses and seems a sensible view. He will probably be ignored though as he has been forever despached to the naughty step, personally I would preffer to see him swop places with Mr Brown! We are all entitled to our views and this is quite an emotive one, Mr Bell should pursue it I think as almost every other developed country now accepts CPs.


I wonder how some of these bigoted people are in power? Don't they have an open mind, grow up and get with modern times!


Why are religious ideas directing our government for decisions that are trying to make us a more equal society? I will admit that I am deeply apposed to organised religions, in other words religions where your way of life is dictated to you. Religion is personal. However government is supposed to govern without corruption (I know, this is laughable, but it is true) or religious agendas. No one should have the right to tell you who you are allowed to love, or how you can express that love. It is sickening to think that couples are continuing to be penalised just because a couple people who talk to some imaginary friend and have some stupid book that was written roughly a thousand years ago, not taking into account the amendments, say that it is wrong. May I just apologise for my last statement if it insulted anyone. I hate being hypocritical.


Without Prejudice, David Anderson should be talking for the whole of the electorate who voted him into office not just "on behalf of people of faith..." Historically Mr Anderson has always been intolerant of certain factions of the Manx populace. Directly from the introductory paragraph of his own website ( ) I quote "Being your MHK involves huge variety. I deal with issues of importance to individuals, of concern within our local community and of national importance. I remain committed to helping our communities and being accessible to all of you whom I represent". If this is the case then he is only doing part of the job that he states if he is only speaking on behalf of people "with faith". Please remember that this is the man who, when minister for education back in 2006 stated without basis in fact that "homosexuality has 'huge health implications..." ( . Of course it does, but then so does heterosexuality or many other human beliefs and actions. These comments then led to calls for his resignation. Geoff Corkish says that there "is no public clamour for such a change" well there is no public clamour for very costly changes on Richmond Hill but we're getting them anyway aren't we. John Houghton? Was he from the "Vicar of Dibley"? No! I'm wrong that was David Houghton, the similarities are there though. I will refrain from calling these people bigots as the term bigot means to be willingly ignorant or intolerant of another person's beliefs or opinions which I am not, These people are as free to make up their own minds and to have their own views on subjects as I am, I do however believe that they should not be using their privilege of being a government official to use their own beliefs to the disadvantage of certain minorities. It is time prejudice and intolerance on the Island was stopped and thank goodness for the sanity displayed by Mr Gill, Mr Bell, Mr Karran and Mr Malarkey. We'll remember who you are come election time.


JR, where do you get the idea that very few support this? Can we have a Today's Vote on this subject please.


Well done Geoff Corkish and others honest enough to put their views on record. Those who say they are not entitled to voice their views are themselves intolerant and bigoted. In a democracy decisions should be made by discussion and agreement not by imposition.


While I'm glad that politicians on the Island feel they have freedom of speech to express themselves, and do not feel tied down by political correctness gone mad, I find myself wondering what difference does it really make to anyone if gay couples enter a partnership or get married, how does that affect the straight population of the Island?

Really, could one person tell me how it will affect the day to day life of straight people, and why we should be treated differently than anyone else?


The major intolerance and prejudice here seems to be against those who hold a view consistent with Biblical Christianity. Why is there no critical examination of the assertions made in the article? Eg 1)if homosexuality is genetic, as Mr Bell seems to believe, how do some (eg after Christian conversion) renounce it? 2)Is a homosexual relationship really likely to provide a suitable environment for a child to grow up? (Better male and female role models? Better acceptance among other children at school? More stable?) 3) Can the official recognition of homosexual relationships really happen without this impinging on the rest of the community? The UK experience says, 'No!' It will create inevitable conflicts. Eg, what happens when a Christian adoption worker is required to place a child with a homosexual couple? 4) Was the Island really less caring in the early 90s? Internet gambling wasn't around then. (Sorry, should sanitise it as 'E-gaming'.) Mann profits from the misery of the losers elsewhere and allows another society to clean up the mess! A caring way to make money?


Poor is the man whose pleasures depend on the permission of another!


I can't believe that in these enlightened times there are so many people who still believe it is wrong to be gay. It isn't. In the same way that it's not wrong to be black, or female, or ginger or Mancunian or whatever. JR and Triumphrider, your condemnation of equality speaks volumes.


FJ, I believe there has already been a vote on this issue. The question was whether or not to support the proposed Bill. The findings were:

16% Yes. It's about time we moved into the 21st century.

15% I agree, but it should go further and legalise gay marriage.

69% I disagree. It is fundamentally wrong.

It seems that JR has more evidence to back his statement up than anything to the contrary, though I admit that polls on iomtoday are probably not an accurate reflection on the views of all of society on the isle of man. It is a reflection of the part that visits this site though. I'm glad that there were a few MHKs in Tynwald who did represent the part of Manx society that does not support the Bill. John, 'religion' is a set of beliefs. It does not need to be a set of beliefs in God or a designer in creation. You could, for example believe in 'the big bang' theory as the answer to where your existence originated, but that too is religion, as there is no way to prove the theory and there are many unanswered questions surrounding it, like, what caused the big bang? And what caused the cause of the big bang? The important thing is, that everyone is entitled to their own set of beliefs and you have your own set too. Do not belittle the opinions of those who have faith in some other theory than the one you hold to. This is a democracy and I support the laws of the land, as we have voted in the current representatives. The system is not perfect, but it will have to do. We (those not MHKs) cannot make the decisions in Tynwald, but we can make our voices heard and stand up to those who think that our voices don't count, just because we believe in God. People get upset with those who believe in God talking about their beliefs because they don't want to hear it, yet they push their atheistic principles on us. That is hypocrisy. Government is not supposed to rule without religious agendas, if the populace holds those religious agendas. The truth is, that the Isle of Man is still very Christian, yet Government does not rule as it is supposed to. Instead it ignores the religious beliefs of the majority in favour of the minority. I believe in equal rights for minorities, but not at the neglect of the majority. I think it is wrong of Mr Bell to use the argument that 'bringing up a child in an abusive family or where drug addiction or alcoholism is rife is vastly more dangerous' in favour of arguing for civil partnerships and for gay couples to have the right to adopt. We don't encourage alcoholism, drug addiction or abuse in families, so why encourage adoption in an unnatural environment where both parents would be of the same sex? The child will still, either be without a father or without a mother. Saying that something else is more dangerous doesn't take away the danger of what we are arguing about. Also, there is no conclusive evidence to say whether or not all or some or none of those who are homosexual are actually born that way, despite what Mr Bell says.


As a constituent of Mr Houghton he has my full support, as long as votes against CP then he will still get my vote come election time. For those of you that have mentioned politicians represent the view of the constituents, some do.


ADAM - I completely agree! It would make no odds to my life if you and a partner were to get married and I really dont understand what the big deal is with this. Its time for the ministers to realsie that there are alot of things that old fashioned bigots dont like but it doesnt make thier opinion right. I'm not always for PC - it can go too far but this is blatent discrimination. Having worked in the Childcare industry on the island i am aware of the collosal numbers of children looking for foster and adoption and it seems to me that the bigger picture is not being accounted for there is no damage in Children being brought up in same sex loving caring relationships Mr Bell is right its far better for a Child to be loved by a family than abused. I feel ashamed at the majority of this article - in 2010 the Island should not be so blatently prejudice to those based on their sexuality - something that someone 'just is' why not say the same to all whose other than Manx born caucasions or is that just too far in the face of inequality?!!!


Dear Emma. If you are in favour of two gay men adopting a little boy to bring up, there are no words that can describe a person promoting such an idea.


Interesting views. Too many to comment on. A few of my own - "Member of the human race" - what race does Mr. Corkish think gay people belong to? "The Isle of Man is still very Christian" - I sincerely hope so as a truly Christian place will follow the doctrines of a loving Christ and not those of people that choose to exclude, denounce and discriminate. "there is no conclusive evidence to say whether or not all or some or none of those who are homosexual are actually born that way"- what evidence is there to say that heterosexuals are actually born that way? You just are, aren't you...same for homosexuals. I commend Messrs Bell, Gill and Karran. Gay people are people that are entitled by birth to be treated equally - end of.


I am neither religious nor homophoebic and prefer not to use the word gay when referring to people who are attracted to their own gender. Homosexual or Lesbian are adequate nouns and I believe such persons should have the same rights in law as heterosexuals. I also believe that practising christians who own guest houses and bed & breakfasts have the right to choose who they allow to sleep in their beds at night without fear of prosecution. It is wrong that one minority group should be treated any different than another minority group.

GEOFF, Douglas

People who wish to enter into a partnership together and gain the legal rights and responsibilities that go with that – should be able to do so, whether they are gay or straight. It's not really a big deal, people will get over it and realise that living in a society with more evidence of tolerance isn't really a bad thing.


In response to the comment "the Isle of Man is still a highly Christian place" I must remind people that this fact does not give people the right to dictate how others should live, which was my point in the first place. Like I also said, I am sorry if I offended.


ML, I am COMPLETELY in favour of 2 men bringing up a child, boy or girl if they have gone though the same adoption/foster proceedures as a hetrosexual couple or person, why wouldnt I be? Far more damaging and detromental is the life of a child brought up in an abusive "family" or the care system than one loved by two people who dont conform to the nuclear family!


Government should NEVER have a religious agenda. We need leadership and a government that operates without contradiction.


Editors' note: We all know that many forums ban religious discussion outright. Please ensure that any religious argument entered here is specific to the content of article.

There should be no problem in a same sex couple having a civil partnership, its not quite the same as a conventional wedding but is an accepted method of 2 people showing thier commitment to each other in most civilised countries now. So what would that make the IOM if we went against the flow? The argument has shifted in this thread to include same sex partnerships and the adoption of children. Whilst I agree wit EMMA, there shouldnt be a problem, there will so long as people like ML exist. These kids would have a life of hell here from thier peers. ML, what makes 2 gays adopting a boy wrong, what about adopting a girl? are you suggesting that gay men would co-erce a young boy to follow thier ways? or that they are just paedophiles? Before you ask i am not gay!


TTTASH, they may get some grief from peers - however they would get greif for; turning up to school in clothes that were unwashed, smelling, being 'dirty', not having any lunch, thier familys being the local 'drunken louts causing grief for the estate and the weekend' not having designer clothes alternativly "being the kid in care that family doesnt want them". With famly experience of children being brought in a same sex couple (on the island shock horror) I know that being 'wanted and loved and secure at home' will overcome any playground bullying - which only comes about because of people like ML and as you - I question what thier intentions were with that comment. With regard to Marriage/ civil Ceremony - live and let live I say - I can Marry my fiance, and i dont see why homosexuals should be able to enter the same comittment with thier partners - If the church disagrees thats fine - a Registry Office is a cheaper and more popular option now-a-days anyhow - reason being that in my honest opinion faith does not prevail in todays society - partially due to people being more open minded and not living to the contraints of a book.


CH – you and a lot of others conveniently forget that Christ was a devout Jew and commanded obedience to the Law i.e. inter alia, Deuteronomy and Leviticus, which proscribe homosexual behaviours".


They call this Government modern? How can they when there is no discrimination laws in place? Backward and totally ignorant is what I would call the current bout of MHK's. Inept self gratifying bunch of no hopers. That's probably the best I can do…..


It seems to me from reading some of the comments here that some people on the Island are still totally intolerant. Of course the people who write in on these things are usually those who have a strong opinion, and I guess that the majority of people don't really care one way or the other. Personally, if two people of the same sex want to sleep together or enter into some sort of legally binding life partnership I don't see how that it is going to have any impact on the way that heterosexual people like me live their lives. Live and let live, and each to their own, is what I say. As someone who knows the Holy Bible well, it always saddens me when someone uses it to justify discrimination or intolerance. Leviticus in particular is often used to justify homophobia. However, anyone who knows that Book also knows that it says that women are unclean during their periods and after childbirth, and that anything she lies on or sits on during that time becomes unclean and anyone who touches where she has sat or lain then becomes unclean too. Is that an acceptable attitude to most Christian people in the modern world - of course not! Then there is the absolute prohibition in Leviticus on eating pork, rabbit and shellfish - I for one don't believe that I am going to be condemned for eternity for being particularly fond of both Manx queenies and roast pork.


I cannot believe some of the bigoted comments that have been placed on here - fortunately they do seem to be in the minority - can anyone else see the irony in that ?!! So a same sex couple want to show commitment to each other and maybe become parents ? You can safely say that these couples will be in committed loving relationships , probably own their own house , have good jobs and will have made the conscience decision to have a child - that child will not be born from a one night stand from drunken teenagers and be brought into the never ending spiral of life on benefits with no prospects as their parents are only kids themselves - the govt should be focused not on this issue of civil partnerships etc but on the issues which are a menace to society - plant food , teenage drinking and pregnancy and the benefit culture - not couples who want to show love and commitment to each other and live a good life and also give a good life to a child. ML you are a disgrace - in fact in your own words - there are no words to describe such a person promoting the ideas that you carry .


I have sat and read these comments in disbelief.. We are in the 21st century arguing over what to many will never effect their lives. All that is asked is a recognition of a loving complete couple. I cannot believe the bigots that have raised their heads with comments that are unfounded and cruel. Whether it is a minority or not shouldn't come into it. As for fostering by a same sex couple, what is yr problem ML??? Firstly a child who is happy and well can come from a straight, gay or Bi couple .Your sexuality doesn't determine the way you raise a child. These couples pour as much love and family closeness as any straight couple if not more.. They are caring human beings..... Id like to remind those using the religious card....with their churches reputation with children I think its best they leave their comments at home. They should sort their own out first. I mean no disrespect to the real Christian people , its just those who hide under its banner!! Everyone has a basic right to live, love and thrive... When will people learn.. Its the Governments decision ..NOT the Churches. Alan Bell is right to bring this to the front again.

VICKI, Ramsey

Freedom To Flourish !! For EVERYONE

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