Peers keep gay sex age limit at 18

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The Independent Online
THE House of Lords went along with the Commons on gay law reform yesterday, despite a strong push from mainly religious peers determined to restore the age of consent for homosexuals to 21.

Peers decided to retain the limit of 18 decided by the Commons in February - rejecting a bid led by the Duke of Norfolk, England's leading Catholic layman, and the Bishop of Chester to return to the former status quo. Voting was 176 to 113, a majority of 63.

Earlier, the Lords had also rejected an amendment from Lord McIntosh, Labour's home affairs spokesman, to reduce the age of consent to 16.

'Christian religion believes homosexual acts to be morally wrong, and punished by the destruction of the parts of the body involved,' the duke told a crowded House. Baroness Young said: 'We should not be afraid to say that the normal is better than the abnormal.'

The duke said lowering the age limit would promote the spread of Aids - a claim denied by the supporters of 16 and 18, who argued that the 'criminalisation' of younger people would prevent them seeking medical and safe-sex advice. 'I can think of no more disastrously self-defeating course than to involve the criminal law,' the historian Earl Russell said.

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