The Chief Minister of the Isle of Man has criticised a landlord for preventing a lesbian couple from renting a flat due to their sexuality.

In a statement on Monday, Allan Bell said: “I am extremely disappointed that this type of ugly, outdated prejudice survives after all the work that been done over the past twenty years or so to make the Island a more tolerant place.”

Mr Bell was commenting in the case involving Kira Izzard and Laura Cull.

The couple, who are due to enter into a civil partnership this year, were told by their estate agency that their landlord was perfectly entitled to refuse their tenancy due to their sexual orientation.

Mr Bell said: “I do believe that our society today is generally much more tolerant than it used to be. But this incident shows that there are still isolated pockets of bigotry that can only be tackled through legislation. An Equality Bill, based on the UK Equality Act of 2010, is already in the drafting process and will deal with discrimination of this kind. I have asked that preparation of this legislation be accelerated.”

He concluded: “I have a clear message for those inside or outside the Isle of Man who still think this is an outpost of old-fashioned prejudice. This is a modern, caring, compassionate and inclusive society and we do not want to be associated with bigots who live in the past.”