The Isle of Man, a British Crown Dependency in the Irish Sea, made history last week when it officially passed a law allowing same-sex marriage.
Although it may have lagged behind England, Scotland and Wales in passing the legislation, it can be considered progressive in other respects.
Not only did the Tywnwald, its parliament, legalise same-sex marriage but it also allowed opposite-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships: something not possible in any other part of the UK.
On Monday, gay couple Marc and Alan Steffan-Cowell were the first same-sex couple to take advantage of the new law. The two were previously in a civil partnership – since 3 July 2015 – but legally changed this to marriage now that they were able to do so.
Because of this, their marriage is considered to have been already formed
‘It’s just finally nice to be equal with everyone else,’ Marc Steffan-Cowell told Isle of Man radio station Three FM, ‘to be able to have a marriage as opposed to a civil partnership by choice, I think it’s absolutely fantastic to follow in line with the rest of the UK. I think it’s a huge milestone for the LGBT community and the Isle of Man as a whole.’
Husband Alan posted on Facebook, ‘Forms all signed and with that we are now the first same sex marriage on the Isle of Man… Ever! History has been made!’
Amnesty International last week praised the Isle of Man – population 84,000 – for passing its Marriage and Civil Partnership Act and pointed out that Northern Ireland is now the only part of the UK that does not have same-sex marriage.
‘Last year Amnesty International wrote to the Isle of Man government encouraging this law change and we’re now delighted to see equal marriage come into law on the island,’ said Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Head of Nations and Regions, in a statement.
‘The Isle of Man’s law reform also throws into sharp contrast the situation facing gay and lesbian couples in Northern Ireland, who are still denied the right to get married by their government.’