Letter: Gay consent at 16 a civil right

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sir: In 1967 the bishops in the House of Lords supported the Sexual Offences Act which was based on the Wolfenden Report of 1957. Many of them did so not because they approved of homosexual behaviour but because they made the distinction between sin and crime. Much has changed in the meantime and many Christians now think that homosexual behaviour between consenting adults is neither a sin nor a crime.

The Commons is shortly being asked to amend the Criminal Justice Bill (report, 15 January) to equalise the age of consent for homosexuals and heterosexuals so I hope church leaders will recognise this is a question of civil rights. No matter what Christians might think of homosexual behaviour, we should want to end the present discrimination. Those who feel young men need protecting, particularly between the ages of 16 and 18, should be reminded of what Wolfenden said:

There comes a time when a young man can properly be expected to stand on his own feet in this as in other matters and we find it hard to believe he needs to be protected from would-be seducers more carefully than a girl does . . . Our medical witnesses were unanimously of a view that the main sexual pattern is laid down in the early years of life and the majority of them held that it was usually fixed in main outline by the age of sixteen, many held that it was fixed much earlier.

Yours faithfully,



The Royal Foundation of

Saint Katharine

London, E14

14 January