Consent age for gays to be set at 16

HOMOSEXUAL RIGHTS

MPS ARE expected to vote by a margin of two to one on Monday to lower the age of consent for gays to 16.

However, moves by a group of Labour MPs to put an age limit of 18 on all relationships between teenagers and authority figures will muddy the waters of the debate.

The vote to equalise the age of consent seemed a foregone conclusion last night, with many MPs promising to return from constituency weeks to vote in favour of the move. But an amendment, signed by more than 30 members, calls for a new ban on all sexual relationships where one party is in a position of "authority, influence or trust".

Gay rights campaigners said the move would criminalise young adults unnecessarily, and that a definition of what constituted influence or trust would be hard to reach.

But Joe Ashton, the Labour member for Bassetlaw, who is proposing the amendment, said it would reflect the aims of Sir William Utting's report on children in care.

"If a teacher has an affair with a 17-year-old boy or girl, that's fine, except if the pupil is at his school. That's the distinction which I think parents would be very much in favour of," he said.

Ann Keen, the Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth, will propose the amendment to the Crime and Disorder Bill which will reduce the age of consent to 16. "Let's get real," she said. "What right have we got to interfere with people's lives?"

She said the Home Office had agreed to review the law on adults in positions of trust in the light of the Utting report.

Gay rights campaigners say their fight for equality will go on, though. They will continue to argue for legal rights for unmarried partners, for an end to the ban on homosexuals in the armed forces and for new laws to prevent homophobic bullying.

Outrage! will now step up a campaign to lower the age of consent to 14. Its director, Peter Tatchell, said gay men were still being prosecuted under the provisions of the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act, which was used to imprison Oscar Wilde for his relationship with the Marquess of Queensberry.

The law against buggery, which originated in 1533, was still used regularly, he said, while a vagrancy law passed in 1898 to protect young girls from older men was now mainly used to prevent gays from "cruising" in public places.

"MPs planning to vote against the new age of consent should ask themselves this question: `If you had a 16- or 17- year-old gay son, would you want him put in prison for a consenting relationship?'"

Ann Widdecombe, the Conservative frontbencher and MP for Maidstone and The Weald, said she would be voting both against the move to cut the age of consent and against Joe Ashton's amendment.

"We all know little boys are attractive to the sort of older men who have those sort of inclinations, and I am not sure this will do anything to protect them," she said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc