• January 18, 2016


A few weeks ago I published an item as part of the OUTSIDE LEFT series of articles I do which concluded with this observation:

“if you study the history the reality is this is a community that birched children and persecuted gays and that’s just the bits we can talk about.

Of course that was all in the past I here you say! Well I say humbug! The same mean spirit still lives in the hearts of many in this community scratch some ‘Island residents’ (are there such things as Manx people anymore?) and you’ll find a bigot trying to get out.”

Disappointingly the recent spat between the Chief Minister and lay preacher Peter Murcott reinforces the view that this is the case. Peter Murcott is fundamentally opposed to same sex marriage as years ago he was opposed to the legalisation of relationships between homosexuals.

Allan Bell spoke stridently about the persecution at that time but pointedly Allan Bell (then a member of government) did not speak out at the time. I don’t blame him as there was a very good reason for his reticence the atmosphere was toxic not least in Tynwald with some of the most powerful and forceful members of our political establishment opposed. One particularly noxious member of the Keys likened gay men to farmyard animals – that was the disgusting propaganda the opponents of reform peddled.

It was left to individuals such as Alan Shea, the local gay rights group and the Manx Council for Civil Liberties to take up the cause. However even then I think we (I was Secretary of MCCL at the time) would have been unsuccessful had it not been for pressure from the wider Gay community and particularly Stonewall who threatened to make the toxic political stance over gay rights as toxic economically for the Island.

Sadly, although the law was changed, I do not think you had a great change of heart here at the time although over the years the prejudice has become less apparent.

Peter Murcott is of course entitled to his point of view and he argues it cunningly in highlighting the failure to adhere to consultation guidelines but in all honesty if the Island is to shake of the legacy of a bigoted past it cannot delay equality of rights for all its people on a tenuous technicality. Nor can we have a rerun of battles lost.

I referred to the present Chief Ministers silence at the time. Well that was equaled by the established Church in Man. There was no Christian charity at the time that people were being persecuted, ruined and driven to the verge of suicide. The establishment, including the government of the day, the police and the established church compounded the abuse of the gay community.

Forgive me if I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for the fundamentalist Christian position now!

Photograph: Alan Shea protests at Tynwald as he presents a petition. He was jeered and spat at on a the National Day when any Manx man or women should be able to present a grievance without let or hindrance.


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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