Letter: Outdated attitudes towards gays and lesbians

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The Independent Online
Sir: A reduction in the gay male age of consent from 21 to 18, now apparently endorsed by John Major (19 July), is neither a liberal reform nor an acceptable compromise.

It would merely perpetuate inequality and underline the continuing second-class status of gay men. For this reason, anything less than an equal age of consent of 16 for both heterosexuals and homosexuals would be fought by the gay community. Many of us would prefer the honest homophobia of an age of consent of 21 to a half-hearted liberalisation which ameliorates, but does not eliminate, discrimination.

Every year, nearly 200 men are convicted, and about a dozen jailed, for consenting homosexual relations involving 16- to 21-year-olds. Most of these men would still be arrested and imprisoned under the compromise age of consent of 18.

What many of us find truly perverse is that the Conservative Government supports anti-gay discrimination while professing a commitment to personal liberty and freedom of choice. This liberty and choice does not, it seems, extend to teenage gay men.

Yours faithfully,

PETER TATCHELL

OutRage

London, W1

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