A public consultation will be launched later this month on the proposed introduction of laws to enable same sex couples to be married in the Isle of Man.
Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK said the progress of new legislation would send out a strong message that the Island is a modern and inclusive nation.
Subject to the outcome of the consultation and other drafting priorities, it is intended to introduce the Same Sex Marriage Bill into the branches of Tynwald during the 2015-16 legislative session.
Same sex marriage legislation has been implemented in England, Wales and Scotland in the past two years, while 62% of voters in Ireland expressed support for its introduction during a referendum in May.
The Chief Minister said:
'Holding a public consultation on same sex marriage marks the continuation of a 25-year journey. The Isle of Man has come a long way since the dark days of the 1990s and embracing this legislation would reflect our position as a progressive society that takes seriously the rights of vulnerable people and minorities. This Government is committed to promoting equality and ensuring fair treatment for all members of our society.'
'I recognise that same sex marriage legislation may generate some strong and polarised views. However, I believe that values of fairness and tolerance are shared by the overwhelming majority of people in our Island.'
The Chief Minister said he would be giving the Council of Ministers a free vote on the Bill.
'I want Ministers to support this legislation because they feel it is the correct way forward for the Island, rather than because they are bound by collective responsibility.'