Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Isle of Man gay couples can register for civil partnership

Same sex statues adorn the top of a wedding cake
Image caption Couples can register at the General Registry in Douglas

Same-sex couples on the Isle of Man now have the right to a civil partnership.

Gay couples will be allowed the same rights as married couples for inheritance, pensions and tax allowances.

The Civil Partnership Bill 2011 comes into force on Wednesday, meaning couples can register for a ceremony to take place as early as next week.

Gay rights campaigners have welcomed the bill claiming they have been discriminated against for years.

Homosexuality was illegal under Isle of Man law until 1992.

The age of consent was set at 21 but has since been lowered to 16.

'More tolerant'

The bill sparked fierce debate among some groups on the island before it was eventually passed last month.

When the bill was passed, Peter Murcott, Methodist preacher, said: "It will have a fundamental change in due course on how the next generation is brought up to conceive family life and ultimately it is going to introduce an anti-Christian attitude and it will be contrary to the beliefs of many other religions as well."

However Allan Bell, MHK, Minister for Economic Development, who tabled the bill, said the Isle of Man was now "more tolerant, understanding and inclusive".

Couples can book their civil partnerships at the General Registry in Douglas from Wednesday but seven days' notice is required.

Isle of Man resident Nicky Young, 42, and her partner Mel are now planning a civil ceremony next year.

She said: "It's going to affect us in a good way because we've just got engaged.

"I think it's not before time, it should have been in a little while ago but that's just Manx laws, that's just island life.

"For people who want to be in a proper relationship I think it will cement and finish off what people want, and that is to get married isn't it really?"

Assistant Chief Registrar Ian Gilmore said: "With effect from 6 April, prospective civil partners will be able to start the procedures that will ultimately lead to them signing a civil partnership schedule and from that point onwards law will recognise their partnership."

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