The Isle of Man’s chief minister has given a formal apology to homosexuals, who were convicted for engaging in gay sexual activities, before the law was changed in 1992.
The Isle of Man is a self-governing British crown dependency which means that it maintains autonomy from the issues like marriage in the UK. Though homosexuality was officially made legal via the Sexual Offences act 1992, the act still contained references to “unnatural offences”, “buggery” and “gross
indecency” between two men.
However, same-sex marriage was legalised by the autonomous island in 2016.
“It now seems incomprehensible… that there was a time when consensual sexual activity between men in the privacy of their own homes was seen as a criminal activity, warranting raids, searches and prosecution,” said Chief minister Howard Quayle.
Quayle gave the apology in the House of Keys on Tuesday January 28, in the lower house of the island’s parliament Tynwald, during the third reading of the Sexual Offences and Obscene Publications Bill 2019.
The newly proposed bill is expected to wholly replace the act of 1992.
“And this was only in our recent history. Before that, many of our countrymen were convicted as criminals, simply for loving another adult. Many more lived in fear. Afraid to be honest about their identity to their friends, family and work colleagues. Forced to feel a sense of shame about who they were. We will never know the hurt our past laws may have inflicted on our own people. How many suffered; how many perhaps took their own lives and how many left their island never to return”.
Quayle said that under the new Sexual Offences and Obscene Publications Bill 2019 individuals can have any previous homosexual convictions removed from their record.
“The Bill before us today tries to right this historic wrong. It gives an automatic pardon to men convicted of homosexual activity that would today be legal”.
The bill passed unanimously in the House of Keys and will now be put to the upper house of Tynwald.