Page last updated at 14:04 GMT, Monday, 22 February 2010

Isle of Man to consider civil partnership bill

Members of the Isle of Man's House of Keys will consider proposals to introduce civil partnerships on the island.

The Civil Partnership Bill will have its first formal reading on Tuesday.

If the bill is passed, gay and lesbian couples would be able to claim the same rights as those who are married.

Treasury minister Allan Bell said the island had been regarded as homophobic in the past, and he hoped the new legislation would change that.

He said: "I think we have a far more tolerant and understanding community on the Isle of Man. Gay relationships are considered as quite acceptable to most people.

"I think the other changes to legislation we have brought in, in relation to the gay issue, have brought the Isle of Man in line with the United Kingdom and indeed the rest of Europe.

"The stigma which we suffered very badly from in the early days has largely gone now and we can hold our head up high and claim we treat all our citizens as equal."

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