Isle of Man lesbian couple refused rental agreement

image captionKira Izzard and Laura Cull were hoping to move into a rented house

An Isle of Man lesbian couple are calling for a change in the law after being refused rental accommodation on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Kira Izzard and Laura Cull, from Douglas, said they were shocked to discover there was no legislation to protect them from discrimination.

The couple have subsequently launched a petition calling for the introduction of the UK's Equality Act 2010.

The online campaign has gathered the support of nearly a thousand people.

Chief Minister of the Isle of Man, Allan Bell said: "I am extremely disappointed that this type of ugly, outdated prejudice survives after all the work that has been done over the past 20 years or so to make the island a more tolerant place.

"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 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."

'Felt sick'

After being refused the rental agreement, Ms Izzard and Ms Cull, who are due to enter into a civil partnership later this year, were told by the Citizens Advice Bureau that the landlord was acting within the law.

"I was so shocked to hear this and felt sick, said Ms Cull.

"I didn't know where to go or what to do as I didn't have a legal leg to stand on so after speaking with my partner Kira we thought that the only thing we could do was to share our story with as many people as possible and try and raise awareness that on this beautiful island that we call home we can still be treated this way."

A spokesperson from the estate agents working on behalf of the couple, Harmony Homes, said the company was "disappointed" they were turned down as a same sex couple.

Rob McDowall, who chairs the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender network (LGBT), has subsequently written to each of the island's politicians to raise his concerns.

In response, Member of the House of Keys (the directly elected lower branch of the Isle of Man parliament), Phil Gawne said: "I am shocked to note that our legislation allows such things to happen here and will do what I can to work with colleagues to ensure that such discrimination cannot take place in the future."

Fellow MHK Brenda Cannell said: "I am shocked, to say the least, that such things are apparently allowed in such situations.

"I feel sure that government will now turn its attention to addressing this outrageous situation and will, with all due speed, consider the required legislation to prevent this type of situation from happening again."

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