Last edited: December 08, 2004

Northern Ireland Consent Age for Gays Lowered to 17

Irish News, December 1, 2000
Belfast, Northern Ireland

By Billy Foley

Thousands of gay people in Northern Ireland yesterday celebrated the lowering of the age of consent to 17 after a 40-year battle.

The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill was forced through the House of Commons after it was consistently rejected by the Lords.

Gay rights campaigners said the new legislation was a victory for equality.

There are an estimated 60,000 gay men and women in Northern Ireland.

President of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association, PA MacLoughlin, said "a deep injustice has been righted".

"We want to see all people treated the same and this is taking a very major step forward to achieving this," he said.

The new legislation brings Northern Ireland into line with the Republic where the age of consent is also 17.

In Britain, the age of consent for gay and straight sex is now 16.

Free Presbyterian minister, Rev David McIlveen, deplored the new legislation which, he said, and put young people under pressure from predatory men to have sex.

Rev McIlveen said it was ironic the legislation was passed on World Aids Day.

He accepted that HIV was not exclusive to gay men but said it was more prevalent in the gay community.

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