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Downing Street rejects calls to lower the age of consent to 15

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  1. Derek Williams 17 Nov 2013, 3:33pm

    In some countries there is a varied scale to account for age not being commensurate with maturity. Perhaps a codicil to avoid criminalising sex between teenagers who are BOTH below 16 is necessary, and another to avoid criminalising couples where one is slightly above and the other slightly below – e.g. a 16 year old in a relationship with a 15 year old should not suffer criminal conviction, whereas a 40 year old with a 15 year old unquestionably should.

    1. Totally agree with you about the 40 year old and the 15 year old but what about a 17 year old and a 15 year old? Seems harsh to criminalise them if we are bothering to change the law.

    2. de Villiers 18 Nov 2013, 11:40am

      I am not sure why this is considered to be particularly gay news – but the article is here.

      Someone below said that the age of heterosexual consent in France is fifteen – which it is. In the 19th century the age of consent was eleven and then elevated to thirteen. This was then elevated to fifteen after the end of the second war world, just before the institution of the Fourth Republic. The ages of heterosexual and homosexual consent are now equal at fifteen years.

      I think that Spain and Italy have a lower age of consent at thirteen years and fourteen years of age respectively.

      There are quite a lot of countries in the Union Europeean that have an age of consent of fourteen or fifteen.

    3. What you are calling for is a “Romeo and Juliet” law like are in some of the US States where 4 or less years apart is consensual.

  2. Robert in S. Kensington 17 Nov 2013, 3:47pm

    I agree, it should be lowered. Government burying its head in the sand if it believes criminalising sexual activity among children under 16 is going to stop them from doing it. Mandatory national sex education curriculum even for faith based schools should be the norm without parental consent if the government is really taking it seriously. Is it any wonder we have some of the highest if not the highest STD and under age pregnancy rates in the EU?

  3. Neon Genesis 17 Nov 2013, 6:16pm

    Peter Thatchell’s argument is like saying since criminals still break the law even with laws against murder on the books, we should relax the laws on murder. What we need is more education and not legislation. I fail to see how encouraging sexual activity among young people is somehow going to magically decrease sexual activity among young people. The logic makes no sense to me. In any case, I don’t see why the NHS just can’t open their information to everyone while still maintaining the legal age restriction if the problem really is with being unable to access NHS information.

    1. de Villiers 18 Nov 2013, 11:42am

      It probably does not on its own – but there are many countries in the Union Europeean that have an age of consent of either fourteen or fifteen.

      There is no special magic about the age of sixteen.

    2. Just as a drinking age of 18 does not stop under-age boozing, the age of consent is arbitrary. Losing one’s virginity is the result of circumstances (opportunity, inebriation, sadly sometimes duress or peer pressure), and / or reasoned decision making based on upbringing, religious belief and environment.
      Rarely do teenagers consider the age of consent before shagging, any more than they would check the expiry date on a condom. It does not register on their radar when the hormones kick in.

  4. I agree with Nick Clegg- let’s have better quality, evidence-based and inclusive sex education in schools.

  5. The problem is, if we lower the age to 15, then 14 year olds will want it lowered. Then 13 year olds…. This really IS a slippery slope. I think 16 is about right. Meanwhile, sex education MUST be made mandatory and must be inclusive of all aspects of sexual life as well as sexual health.

    1. I agree with mandatory inclusive sex and sexual health education, however it also needs to include relationship education as well as peer group discussion and not just as a one off lesson but starting age appropriately before secondary school and in secondary school more comprehensive to include STI’s contraception and harm protection and relationship education. Many countries also have an 18 month or 2year period where it is not a criminal offence if both partners are close in age.Many countries including France and Denmark the age of consent is 15, the slipery slope idea is not a sensible one, and there is no sense in criminalising young people when the relationship is not exploitative, fully consenting and the couple are of similar age.
      This type of arrangement operates “unofficially” at the moment, otherwise there would be thousands of teenagers in jail or with a criminal record. I see no reason why it should not be written into the law as it is in many European countries.

      1. Yes, that’s exactly the sort of sex education I was thinking of. And Free Schools and Faith schools must toe the line.

        I disagree with your dismissal of the slippery slope, but you are PERFECTLY correct about the young non-exploitive relationship, as opposed to older men or women exploiting the young. In the end good sex education and convincing the teens to wait until they are old enough would go hand in hand with an understanding of the natural desires of two impatient 15 year olds.

        1. When I said mandatory in schools I meant ALL schools, not enough in the permitted word count to be expansive. Sorry. Where the above is being practiced now in Education (and some other countries) it has been shown in studies that young people choose to have first penetrative sex at a later age, unwanted and early teenage pregnancies are dramatically less, and young people feel more empowered and knowledgable in their relationships this also encourages less risk taking and more care over their health. Lack of knowledge or preventing accurate knowledge has the opposite effect to what the “dont talk about sex, it encourages it” brigade try to make believe. We owe our children honesty and the knowledge and empowerment to make their own responsible decisions.
          Kathryn.

      2. I can’t help thinking that decriminalising teen sex in that way would seem to be a licence to have sex for a lot of them. Otherwise, it is a very good point, and I understand where you’re coming from.

      3. Robert in S. Kensington 17 Nov 2013, 9:44pm

        Totally concur. The slippery slope panic is a red herring just as it was with the same-sex marriage debate where after 2001 when the Netherlands first introduced it, there has been no demand for legalising polygamous or incestuous relationships, let alone bestial ones. There has been no report of the slippery slope in countries where the age of consent is 15 either. The UK should follow suit but compel all religious based schools receiving government funding at the expense of the taxpayer to comply, absolutely no exceptions.

        1. perhaps because 15 has been the age for a long time and it is accepted. whereas here it would be quite a monumental change. Don’t dismiss the possibility, though in general I do agree with points made.

    2. de Villiers 18 Nov 2013, 11:51am

      I am not sure that there is a slippery slope – or that the slippery slope here is dangerous. Other countries in the Union Europeean have ages of consents of either fourteen or fifteen. I think that Spain has the lowest at thirteen.

      I am sure that the problem of teenage sex and pregnancies in France and Italy, which have ages of consents of 15 and 14 respectively, are not worse than that in England, which seems to have a particular phobia about sex.

      It also seems that in England there is a higher level of prudishness about bodies and sex whilst at the same time teenage girls fall drunk in the streets with their underwear round their ankles.

  6. Christopher 17 Nov 2013, 10:36pm

    Wow, 16 isn’t young enough?

  7. dropoutguy 18 Nov 2013, 2:14am

    Problem is that society continues to believe, in recent years even more so, that the way to discourage something is to ensure that it is illegal. In the case of sex between teenagers that approach is almost certainly wrong. The correct approach IMO is to legalise from 14 and caution/discourage through education.

    1. We have the highest age of consent in the EU, and the most teenage pregnancies and STI rates are rocketing. When we had the strictest licensing laws, we had the worst drink-related crime rates and alcohol-related health issues.
      Seems the lessons of Prohibition in the US in the 1920’s have not been learned. You do not enhance society by restrictive legislation, but by education.

  8. GingerlyColors 18 Nov 2013, 9:28am

    I think that 16 is young enough for sex. I know that many European countries have lower ages of consent but here in the in England, Wales and Scotland the current age of consent is adequate. In Northern Ireland (and also in the Irish Republic) the age is 17 but there is a case to bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK.
    As for Britain having the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Europe the law against under age sex needs to be enforced. With every pregnant under-16 there is a man (or boy) who has broken the law by having sex with an under age girl.
    As for whether contraceptives should be given to under-16yo’s should be a subject of lively debate here. Prescribing pills and condoms to u16’s is in my opinion aiding and abetting under age sex. Would a shop be allowed to sell beer and cigarettes to an under 18yo as long as they tell them that they cannot drink or smoke them until they are old enough?

    1. If you are going to implement that law, WHY would you punish just the boys? It takes two to have sex. The girls are just as guilty. They both know what they are getting up to. How is prescribing condoms and pills aiding and abetting? Condoms are one way to help minimise STIs and to stop pregnancy. Withholding such things will only increase the number of STIs and pregnancies. Teenagers will have sex regardless. With poor sex education in most schools, they don’t really understand or care about the implications having sex can have. I would rather we continue providing condoms and pills but also improve sex education to include all aspects of sex/relationships.

    2. de Villiers 18 Nov 2013, 11:45am

      If people are going to have sex then they will have it whether or not they can buy contraception. If teenagers are going to have sex then it is better that they behave carefully so that they do not make for themselves major harm.

    3. One cannot enforce laws against when hormones flow. The statistics prove this. Beer and cigarettes are not hormone related.

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