Civil partnerships have been signed into law on the Isle of Man.

The law comes into effect on April 6th – five years after the UK legalised civil partnerships.

The Isle of Man has lagged far behind the UK on gay rights for years. Homosexuality was illegal on the island until 1992 and the age of consent was equalised in 2006.

Treasury minister Allan Bell, who tabled the bill, said: “It has been an extremely difficult time for gay people wishing to have open, loving caring relationships.

“But gay rights have changed beyond recognition over the last 20 years on the island. It is a very different place now, it is more tolerant, understanding and inclusive.”

He said the change would end outside perceptions of the Isle of Man as a “backward society”.

The news has been welcomed by gay couples on the island, although one gay man told the BBC that he and his partner were forced to have HIV tests before they were granted a mortgage and life insurance.

He said: “I told our broker in no uncertain terms that I didn’t want to take out a policy with someone who discriminated against gay people but most on them on the island weren’t prepared to give a policy unless the HIV test was taken.”