• October 30, 2015


It is a good thing that almost a quarter of a century on the struggle by the gay community to achieve civil rights in the Isle of Man is to be recalled in a play staged in London. It’s a dark chapter that needs to be remembered.

Isle of Man Today has a feature on the event with a video from the height of the struggle in the early 1990s (see link):


It was not just the gay rights issue which made the Island the odd ‘Mann’ out of Western Europe, capital punishment was retained on the statute (although invariably any sentence would have been commuted) and most fundamentally the right of individual petition to the European Court of Human Rights had been taken away (almost by sleight of hand) in 1976.

In 1990 the Manx Council for Civil Liberties was founded to address all these issues and eventually, reluctantly the Isle of Man dragged itself into the twentieth century.

However of all the ‘rights struggles’ it was the campaign to legalise homosexuality that was the most strident and the sight of Alan Shea delivering his petition dressed in the garb of a Nazi concentration camp inmate is an enduring image and one that symbolised the lack of justice.

As the IOM Today piece says gay people were persecuted by the police force here for years and at the same time every Remembrance Day the island gathered itself together and paid homage to those who had fought and died for the very freedoms denied to a section of Manx society for so long.

Speaking at the 1992 AGM of Mec Vannin as Chairman after the decision had been made to grant gay rights I said there needed to be an alliance of like minded people to combat intolerance in the future now that we had ‘seen the end of the fascist style persecution of homosexuals’. I also pointed out that the Tynwald debate held at the time had highlighted that Tynwald contained ‘a greater percentage of rightwing bigots than any other comparable parliament’.

We like to think we have moved on from then but the case two years ago when a lesbian couple were refused the rental of a property shows that the old bigotry is still present (see link):


In the IOM newspaper interview Alan Shea says;

‘I still thing the police owe us an apology for the way we were treated,’

It’s a comment that was also made in the Independent article two years ago but obviously no one was listening.

The gay community are owed an apology from the police and it is long overdue.

The police may have just have been following orders – but we’ve heard that somewhere else during the history of the twentieth century!


Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues




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