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Gay sex ban was an oversight

Community News

Community News

Archaic laws banning gay sex on board Manx-registered merchant ships are probably an oversight according to a government spokesman.

The matter was brought to light by Lee Vorster, a member of Manx gay rights group the Manx Rainbow Association.

Though homosexual sex between consenting adults became legal in the Isle of Man in 1992, paradoxically the Sexual Offences Act of the same year prohibits such activity on Manx-registered ships.

Mr Vorster said: ‘We understand this does not represent the current stance of the Isle of Man government and we want to work with them to get this law repealed.

‘One of our aims is to portray the Isle of Man as a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-friendly place and this sort of legislation projects quite a poor image for potential visitors.’

He added when he had contacted the Manx Shipping Register they had been shocked by the revelation but had said it needed pursuing with the government.

According to Mr Vorster, the 1992 Act relaxed the constraints on civilians but prohibits homosexual sex aboard a Manx merchant ship, which is any Manx registered passenger or cargo ship.

A government spokesman said: ‘The island’s gay rights laws have been undergoing a process of modernisation since the early 1990s, when the 1992 Sexual Offences Act decriminalised gay sex.

‘Since then the age of consent has been equalised, and same sex civil partnerships introduced. However, the issue of male homosexual relations on Manx-registered merchant vessels has been overlooked in the reforms thus far.

‘This point has already been recognised within government and will be addressed in forthcoming legislation. We are not aware that the existing legal provision has ever been used against anyone.’

 

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