Gay sex at 16 vote in Commons

THE HOUSE of Commons was set to vote overwhelmingly yesterday in favour of lowering the age of consent for gay sex from 18 to 16. The debate was seven hours long and, at times, was intensely personal, tackling such subjects as sex, relationships, young love and something called "lifestyle".

This is the second time in the past year that MPs have debated the measure. The last Bill, which was passed last summer with a majority of 207, was rejected by the Lords. Yesterday's Bill was the new, improved version aimed at staving off further revolt. The most significant change is a new offence for a "person of trust" who has sex with a young person in their care.

Last night there was a rumour the Lords would once again strike it down when it reaches the Upper House, probably after Easter. But the Commons was not deterred. One MP remarked that this was the House's chance to "act like an adult". On the whole this was achieved, and with eloquence. Men in suits spoke of what it can be like to be a teenager in the middle of an identity crisis. The Labour MP Ann Keen said:"Real love, real care, real concern means making sure young people are not criminalised for their sexuality."

The Home Secretary, Jack Straw, opened the debate by explaining the Bill was not about lifestyle or even sex. "Instead it is a question of equality before the law," he said. The current law had led to "huge human unhappiness".

Sir Norman Fowler was not so sure. He voted to lower the age of consent to 18 in 1994 but drew the line yesterday. The public, he said, was against it.

The new offence for "abuse of trust" has won over many Labour MPs, including Bassetlaw's Joe Ashton. He brought a sheaf of cuttings to show what the public thought about it all.

Occasionally you heard the voice of homophobia. "People do have the choice to maintain self-discipline," said a Tory, Desmond Swayne. Earlier, the Democratic Unionist Party leader, Dr Ian Paisley, had handed in a 18,000- name petition calling homosexuality an abomination that would lead to the judgement of God. But even Dr Paisley conceded the almighty has no control over Europe, which has decreed the UK must make the age of consent for homosexual and heterosexual sex the same.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent