Isle of Man chief opens up about sexuality as equal marriage discussions begin

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The chief minister of the Isle of Man has opened up about his sexuality, as discussions begin about same-sex marriage.

As a crown dependency, the Isle of Man maintains autonomy from the UK, and is responsible for introducing its own laws on issues such as marriage equality.

Manx chief minister Allan Bell of the Isle of Man recently announced a public consultation on same-sex marriage, with a bill is expected to be introduced to the Tynwald (legislature) next year.

This marks definite progress in the Manx move towards marriage equality, especially given that it was last part of these islands to legalise homosexuality in 1992.

In an interview with the Guardian, Bell spoke about his own sexuality for the first time publicly.

He said: “People know that I’m gay. I’ve never made a secret of it, but no one has ever asked me.

Mr Bell also opened up about the ‘dark days’ on the Isle of Man during the 80s and 90s, when deeply homophobic comments were made by politicians arguing homosexuality should remain a criminal offence – often while he was in the chamber.

He told the newspaper of the time: “It was disgusting. I felt dirty at the end of it. I felt for a period ashamed to be Manx because of the debate that was going around.

“You can read the Hansard now but you won’t be able to feel the emotion of being on the receiving end of those words in a parliamentary setting.”

Bell continued: “[The Irish referendum] helped to clarify my thoughts on a few things, and picking up the reaction locally I’ve not heard a single negative reaction to it, and that’s quite heartening.”

“Everyone who loves their partner, whether same-sex or otherwise, must have equal rights to share their lives.

“It’s a totally logical human right and human expectation that straight couples and gay couples should be able to enjoy life with the partner that they choose and I totally support that.”