Isle of Man Catches Up

This originally appeared in BCN issue 75.

The Isle of Man’s ban on the promotion of homosexuality by public bodies could be repealed as part of a draft Bill to update and strengthen the Island’s sexual offences laws.  The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill equalises the ages of consent for heterosexual and homosexual sex in line with the Island’s international legal obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

One of the suggestions has been the repeal of Section 38 of the Sexual Offences Act 1992 be included. Section 38 prohibits the promotion of homosexuality by public bodies and is similar to the British mainland’s now-defunct Section 28.

Repealing Section 38 is not part of the draft bill, but John Shimmin, the member of the Council of Ministers in charge of the Bill, said since it had now been raised the provision could be included in the bill.

“Repeal of Section 38 is not part of the draft Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill and

the Council of Ministers has yet to make a policy decision on the issue.  Before that happens it seems reasonable to sound out public opinion on the matter as part of the consultation on the Bill.” said Shimmin.

While the Isle of Man Government is obliged under the European Convention on Human Rights to equalise the age of consent, there is no such obligation in international law to repeal Section 38.  The public consultation phase of the bill closed as BCN went to press.