New sex law to target child abusers

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The offences of buggery, gross indecency and soliciting by men will all be removed from the statute book under draft legislation to be published on Tuesday.

The offences of buggery, gross indecency and soliciting by men will all be removed from the statute book under draft legislation to be published on Tuesday.

The Sex Offences Bill is designed to dispense with Victorian ideas on how the state regulates private morality, instead concentrating the full fury of the law on those who persistently abuse children. It is expected to herald reforms that will cease to treat sexual behaviour between people of the same sex any differently from that between heterosexuals.

Contrary to one tabloid rumour, it is not likely to make gay sex in public legal, but will introduce a new public order offence to cover indecent sexual behaviour in a public place. This will abolish the specific offence of "cottaging".

The Bill is likely to reopen tensions in Conservative ranks between traditionalists who want the party to uphold family values, and modernisers who want it to appear tolerant and in touch with the times.

A Home Office source said yesterday: "The law on sex offences is archaic and out of date – 19th-century laws."

The Sex Offences Bill will include a specific offence of "grooming" children for abuse. Heavier penalties will be available to the courts to deal with those who distribute or make child pornography.