Letter: Commons vote continues to make criminals out of young homosexuals

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Sir: Despite the failure of the campaign for an equal age of consent, it is right to pay tribute to the impressive campaigning work by Stonewall, OutRage] and all the other lesbian and gay groups up and down the country during the past few months. Similarly, I would like to acknowledge the Independent's excellent coverage of the issues involved. The campaign came within of handful of votes of success.

However, we have now had the imposition of new discriminatory laws which confirm afresh the unequal status of gay men. As Gay Men Fighting Aids and other Aids organisations pointed out, this is as much a health issue as a civil rights issue. The defeat in the Commons highlights how far we still have to go towards meeting the needs of gay men during the Aids epidemic.

The age of consent is just one of many problems still facing us. Despite last year's lip service, it is clear that the Government is not remotely committed to ensuring that safer sex campaigns for gay and bisexual men are given the priority they require. Education work is still undermined by institutionalised cowardice reinforced by laws such as 'Clause 28' and the Obscene Publications Act. Across the country the NHS is still failing to deliver adequate local projects to fight Aids. Far too many gay men are still becoming infected with HIV.

Yours sincerely,



Gay Men Fighting Aids

London, SW2

22 February