New move over age of consent for gays

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Indy Politics

The Government will seek yet again to lower the age of consent for homosexuals with a new Bill this Parliament, it was promised today.

The Government will seek yet again to lower the age of consent for homosexuals with a new Bill this Parliament, it was promised today.

The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill will bring the age of homosexual consent down from 18 to 16-years in line with heterosexuals.

It will also make it a criminal offence for people in positions of trust - such as teachers or care workers - to have sex with a child in their care under 18-years-old.

In a third part to the act, under-age children who engage in homosexual acts with someone above the age of consent will no longer be committing a criminal act.

An earlier attempt to bring down the age of homosexual consent from 18 to 16 failed after it was rejected by large majorities in the House of Lords.

Home Secretary Jack Straw earlier warned he would invoke the Parliament Act allowing the Commons' views to override those of the House of Lords if the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill was blocked again.

There will be a free vote on the Bill, which will cover the whole of the UK although the Scottish Parliament will be able to amend or repeal any Scottish provisions in it, the Government said.

The move will be welcomed by gay rights campaigners.

But teachers' unions claim making consensual relations between staff and pupils aged 16 and 17 a criminal offence was a step too far.

The National Association of Head Teachers claims any such relationships are already treated as serious disciplinary matters by headteachers.

General Secretary David Hart said: "Teachers will be placed in double jeopardy for behaviour which may well be extremely stupid, but certainly not criminal."

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