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FOLLOWING our post yesterday about the plight of lesbian couple Kira Izzard and Laura Cull, who were denied accommodation on the Isle of Man, it has emerged that the bigot behind the refusal to grant them a house tenancy is a minister at the Ramsey Independent Methodist Church.

Keith Price said his decision was guided by his religious beliefs based on scripture, but Manx’s Chief Minister Allan Bell lashed out, in this BBC report, at what he called “ugly, outdated prejudice”.

Price said:

We are not homophobic but we do have a stance on sexuality. We understood that they [Ms Izzard and Ms Cull] were not a family so we said we couldn't proceed [with the rental agreement].

We believe that God has a plan for our lives within the context of marriage, the scripture is quite clear in its teaching on this.

In exposing Price’s bigotry, the pair highlighted the absence of an Equality Act on the Isle of Man, saying that it allows landlords to discriminate against gay couples.

Allan Bell has now promised to speed-up the progress of an equality bill, currently in the drafting stage.

He insisted the rights of minorities must be respected in the Island after years of effort to create an inclusive society.

Bell added:

I am extremely disappointed that this type of ugly, outdated prejudice survives after all the work that has been done over the past 20 years or so to make the island a more tolerant place.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 our society today is generally much more tolerant than it used to be. But this incident shows 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.

Kira Izzard said she was relieved to hear about Mr Bell's reaction.

I am over the moon to know that people are taking this seriously – the chief minister has said he will move the legislation on and we believe him, we have no reason not to.

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