The Isle of Man’s Council of Ministers has announced that the state will be looking to equalise the age of consent for gay and straight sex.
The Isle, which has its own legal system, but is a British Crown dependency, is currently the only place in the British Isles where the age of consent is unequal. Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England Wales have all equalised the age of consent in accordance with their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill will go before members of the Tynwald (the Isle’s parliament) later this year.
It is also expected that the Island will also lift their own version of the controversial ‘Section 28’ that banned the promotion of homosexuality by public bodies that was repealed in England in 2003.
However, but John Shimmin, the minister in charge of the Bill, pointed out that the Isle has no obligation to repeal Section 38 (as it is known on the Isle of Man). “Repeal of Section 38 is not part of the draft Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill and the Council of Ministers has yet to make a policy decision on the issue. Before that happens it seems reasonable to sound out public opinion on the matter as part of the consultation on the Bill.
While the Isle of Man Government is obliged under the European Convention on Human Rights to equalise the ages of consent, there is no such obligation in international law to repeal Section 38.”