Gay Consent Bill to Become Law
The controversial bill to lower the gay age of consent from 18 to 16 is to become
law next week.
Online News, November 24, 2000
The government is to steamroll the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill onto the statute
books by invoking the Parliament Act.
The law will make it legal for 16 and 17 year-olds to have anal sex.
The Bill has been thrown out of the Lords on three occasions and opponents have reacted
angrily to the news that it is to become law.
The governments decision means MPs will not be asked to vote on amendments to the
Bill put forward by peers last week.
Former Tory minister Baroness Young, who spearheaded the successful defence of Section
28 banning the intentional "promotion" of homosexuality by councils in England
and Wales, expressed concern at the decision.
"This is a matter of great concern to a lot of people in this House, in the
Commons and outside. This is a very serious issue," she said.
Leader of the Lords, Baroness Jay of Paddington said the government had made the
decision on the grounds that the issue had been discussed enough.
"I think that that decision has been made on the basis that, clearly, this is a
subject that has been discussed very much regularly between the two Houses I
believe, on three separate occasions."
She said discussions on different versions of the Bill had totalled 48 hours.
Lady Jay added: "The Government have taken the view that there has been very ample
opportunity for the discussion of these issues in both Houses, and what seems to have been
demonstrated is a fundamental incompatibility.
"The position, as is always the case, is that the elected House must be
Indignation across the country
Former Tory Lords leader Lord Waddington attacked the decision.
"Do you not realise the indignation that will be felt in the country that the
Parliament Acts should be used to railroad through a Bill that does nothing to help young
people but merely grants a licence to older people to abuse them?"
Many peers criticised the decision to put the Bill on the statute books before MPs had
been given an opportunity to consider the Lords amendments.
But Lady Jay said a lack of parliamentary time meant the Commons was not in a position
to examine peers amendments.
However, she added that Home Secretary Jack Straw would allow "some of the
considerations" that had been raised in Lords amendments to be incorporated in