Age of Consent Bill welcomed, but criticised

The new Bill fails to protect teenagers against sex abuse

The Government’s proposed Age of Consent Bill, announced at the time of the Queen’s Speech, has been welcomed by OutRage! as the final round in the 32-year campaign to end discrimination in the consent laws.

“Over the last three decades, more than a thousand gay men have been imprisoned for consenting sex that was not a crime between heterosexuals”, said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!.

“A 19-year-old teenager recently served a nine-month sentence for a consenting gay relationship with a 16-year-old. This new legislation will put an end to such injustices.”

But OutRage! is criticising the government for failing to protect vulnerable teenagers adequately against sex abuse.

“The new Bill should have included measures to make earlier, better quality sex education mandatory in all schools”, said Mr. Tatchell.

“Empowering young people with sexual knowledge, skills and confidence is the best way to combat abusive relationships, cut teen pregnancies and prevent the spread of HIV. The lack of Government action to improve sex education is a serious omission from this legislation.”

OutRage! has also condemned the abuse of trust proposals in the age of consent Bill, which penalise adults in a position of authority, influence or trust who have sex with young people in their care

“These relationships are inappropriate, but it is wrong to criminalise consenting sex. Jailing a young teacher for up to five years for what may be a loving, sincere relationship with an older pupil is unjust and draconian.

“Relationships between teachers and pupils may sometimes develop naturally and spontaneously, without involving any element of exploitation or abuse. Such relationships should be dealt with through employment disciplinary procedures, not by criminal sanctions”, said Mr. Tatchell.