EDUCATION Minister David Anderson has rejected calls for him to resign — as gay campaigners celebrated the repeal of controversial legislation banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools.
The Ellan Vannin Gay Group described the repeal of section 38 as a victory for 'sense and reason' — but demanded the resignation of Mr Anderson and education department member Captain Andrew Douglas.
Following a three-hour debate, section 38 of the Sexual Offences Act, which bans all public bodies from intentionally promoting homosexuality and described by its opponents in the Keys as 'nasty, spiteful and cruel', was repealed by 12 votes to nine.
Committed Christian Mr Anderson was opposed to the repeal of the clause.
He insisted his amendment to retain an altered version of the legislation was education department policy, but saw that amendment narrowly fail to carry by 12 votes to 10.
And Mr Anderson came under further fire after he expanded on his claims that homosexuality was linked to increased health risks.
Stephen Moore, of the Ellan Vannin Gay Group, welcomed the repeal: 'Sense and reason does seem to have come to the fore. But I am worried and alarmed a number of the MHKs still do not appear to have grasped this issue is not just about a small section of the community, it is about equality for all.
'The education minister and the member for education should offer their resignation.'
But Mr Anderson (Glenfaba), who has already received support to carry on from Chief Minister Donald Gelling, insisted: 'I won't be resigning, no. If the chief minister thought I should resign I would do so.'
During the Keys debate he insisted: 'I believe in standing up for traditional family values, even when it is not politically correct to do so. This does not make me a homophobic bigot.'
He said he hoped his amendment would be seen as an 'honest and responsible attempt to preserve a moral framework' for the teaching of sex education in schools. Failure to support it, he claimed, would 'signal a commitment to a moral free for all'.
He critcised Isle of Man Newspapers for having a 'partisan view' on the issue.
After his defeat, he said he remained convinced that homosexual activity did have higher health risks.
He said: 'I know for a fact that in the UK there is evidence — you just have to look up homosexual health on Google (internet search facility].
'There are health risks in any sexual activity, I'm not arguing about that. But there is an increased health risk with homosexual activity.
'Basically, if you are homosexual and have had homosexual activity you are not allowed to be a blood donor. The risk is higher. It is the same with the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust.'
Mr Anderson said he deliberately did not talk about the health implications in the Keys because he did not want that issue to 'hijack' the debate.
He said his amendment, which removed reference to the 'acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship' was his department's policy, arrived at in consultation with 10 of his department's advisers.
He told the Keys that he had received 50 letters and 70 telephone calls on the issue with those in support of his views outnumbering those against by 10 to one.
Commenting on Mr Anderson's warning of health implications, Mr Moore said: 'I am astounded that anybody can still entertain these views — and Mr Anderson is in charge of education.
'Perhaps some of the members of that department should be back in the classroom.'