Twigg backs gay vote

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Action to force another free vote on lowering the age of consent for homosexuals from 18 to 16, was backed yesterday by Stephen Twigg, the Labour MP who toppled Michael Portillo to take Enfield Southgate.

Mr Twigg, who is gay, joined the gay rights campaigners, Stonewall, at the Commons to support equality for homosexual rights in the age of consent, the repeal of the Section 28 of the Local Government Act which bans promotion of homosexuality by public authorities, and a relaxation of the ban on homosexuals serving in the military.

MPs rejected the reducing of the age of consent to 16 during the last Parliament, and lowered it instead to 18. But Mr Twigg said he was confident that there was "overwhelming" support in the new Parliament for lowering the gay age of consent and repealing Section 28.

Although Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, had made it clear that any change in the military rules could only happen after consultations with the Ministry of Defence, he believed that there was "a clear majority" of Labour MPs in favour of movement on the issue.