Letter: Right to be gay

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Michael Bell (Letter, 24 April) may not be right that the electorate are two-thirds against lowering the homosexual age of consent. One reputable opinion poll, conducted by NOP, showed the electorate supporting this measure by 60 per cent to 40 per cent.

However, rather than argue about where the majority is, I will argue that human rights issues should not be settled simply by invoking the majority principle. It is those to whom the majority does wish to deny human rights, not those to whom it does not, whose human rights stand in need of protection.

If Mr Bell wishes to deny that an equal age of consent is a human rights issue, he should remember that the point is at present before the European Court of Human Rights. The preliminary opinion of the court's commission is that it is a human rights issue, and that if we do not pass the Bill, we are in breach of articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Is this something Mr Bell thinks majority support can justify?

Earl RUSSELL

House of Lords

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