Current Affairs

Guernsey’s second shot at an equal age of consent

Celine Casey March 29, 2007
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The Channel Island of Guernsey plans to follow Jersey later in the year by reducing their gay age of consent from 18 to 16.

In 1999, the island lowered the age from 21 to 18.

Politicians in Guernsey approved an equalisation amendment as part of a “requete,” the equivalent of a Private Member’s Bill, from Conseiller Carol Steere, which would have seen an equal age of consent of 16.

Following the presentation of her requete, Conseiller Steere told other members that the matter is one of equality and freedom.

The senior States committee was told to come back to the house with detailed legislation within six months.

If the age for homosexuals is not equalised, the island will be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Guernsey only legalised homosexual acts 15 years ago.

Chief Minister Laurie Morgan said “I’m sure that there will be States members who will say ‘Why do we need to be pressurised into doing something like this?’

“But I believe the majority of members will see the common sense of it, bearing in mind that the age of heterosexual acts is 16 anyway.”

Figures from France, Germany and Holland show that young people acted responsibly when given more rights.

The change in the age of consent was opposed by some members of States, and others voiced concerns that passing the bill would amount to legalising sodomy.

Despite the MPs backing the equal age of consent, it is likely to face a test in the House of Lords.

Former Home Secretary Jack Straw has said there is no evidence that when homosexual acts were illegal at any age, this cut the number of people engaging in them.

Instead, inequality leads to, “huge human unhappiness and very great injustice,” hd said.

If Guernsey’s gay age of consent is accepted it would put the island more in step with the rest of Europe.

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