Gay and straight youth groups in Canada have come out against a change in age of consent from 14 to 16.
Richard Hudler of the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario claims that it will unfairly prejudice gay teenagers.
“My first lover was 17 years older than me. And this is common [among gay people],” he said, according to xtra.ca.
“It is dangerous, considering the attitude toward sexual orientation in schools, for a young person to attempt to make sexual contact with a peer.”
The change in the age of consent has cross-party support and is almost certain to become law.
Politicians argue it is a necessary child protection measure.
LGBT groups also spoke against the discriminatory age of consent for anal sex in Canada.
Under Canada’s Criminal Code, anal sex is only legal if both individuals are 18 years old.
The Canadian House of Commons justice committee had a chance to strike down the law last year, but the chair, Conservative MP Art Hanger, refused.
“This factor sends a strong message to the gay community that hostility toward same-sex relationships is a motivating factor behind this legislation,” said Hudler.
“The bill is homophobic,” Jeremy Dias, executive director of Jer’s Vision, a youth group that seeks to end discrimination in schools, said, according to xtra.ca.
“Why can’t a gay male youth make sexual decisions until he’s 18?”
Canada’s legal system ties consent to the desire to protect children from adults who wish to exploit them sexually.
Section 153 of Canada’s criminal justice code then goes on to prohibit the sexual touching of a person under 18 by a person in three circumstances: if he or she is in a “position of trust or authority” towards the youth, if the youth is in a “relationship of dependency” with him or her or if the relationship is
The alleged intention of the bill is to target sexual predators and pimps, although no legal distinction is made to differentiate them from older partners engaged or interested in non-exploitative relationships, or to distinguish between sexual harassment and normal approaches.
Details of the proposed change include raising the age of consent from 14 to 16, while creating a near-age exemption for sex between 14 to 15 year olds and partners up to five years older, and keeping an existing near-age clause for sex between 12 and 13 year olds and partners up to two years older.
The Canadian Senate will continue hearings on the Conservative government’s omnibus crime bill, which includes the age of consent changes, this week.