Isle of Man chief constable apologises for way anti-gay laws enforced

  1. The Isle of Man chief constable has apologised for the way laws criminalising homosexuality were enforced locally.

  2. In a letter to a charity, Gary Roberts apologised for an "institutionalised approach" that "caused harm to some people".

  3. Homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales in 1967 but laws kept it illegal on the island until 1992.

  4. Mr Roberts said the apology was needed to help "draw a line under the past".


  1. His letter was to Isle of Pride, a charity that champions equality and inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community on the Isle of Man.

  2. He wrote: "While I cannot apologise for the act of enforcing the law… I can and will apologise for the way that the law was sometimes enforced."

  3. It follows the issuing of automatic pardons to men with historical criminal convictions linked to homosexual acts on the island.

  4. In 2020, the then chief minister Howard Quayle also issued an "unqualified apology" to men convicted of such offences.

  5. 'Caused distress'

  6. In the letter, Mr Roberts said policing "needs to be understood within the social and political context of any given period" and the constabulary had "undergone transformative change this century".

  7. He added: "However, it is clear that some of the actions of the constabulary caused distress to members of the gay community and their families.

  8. "I regret that this was the case and I am sorry that some members of that community are still affected by this.

  9. "I hope that it helps to start a process that in particular allows older members of the LGBTQ+ community to begin to see the Isle of Man Constabulary for what it is: decent, fair and there for everyone, irrespective of their unique, individual needs."

  10. Mr Roberts also praised the "courage and determination" of gay rights campaigners on the island who "fought long and hard for what is right".

  11. Their achievements "should be a cause for celebration", he said.

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