Protect Girls

Why the Parliament Acts should not be used on the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill

© The Christian Institute, November 2000

Contents

The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill

Why the Parliament Acts should not be used

The Law of Buggery

Anal intercourse is extremely dangerous

References

 

The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill

This Bill:

  • lowers from 18 to 16 the age at which a man can commit buggery (anal intercourse) on a girl or boy;
  • lowers from 18 to 16 the age at which homosexual acts (excluding buggery) can be committed on boys;
  • introduces what the Home Office describe as a "very limited criminal offence" to protect young people from being sexually exploited by adults who abuse their position of trust.

What the House of Lords has passed:

On 13 November the House of Lords voted to amend the Bill to:

  • stop the age at which buggery can be committed on a girl or boy from falling from 18 to 16;
  • strengthen the new offence of 'abuse of trust' contained in the Bill.

The House of Lords' amendments do not affect the Government's proposals to allow homosexual acts (other than buggery) at 16.

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Why the Parliament Acts should not be used:

  • The Acts are a draconian device intended to be used on matters of major national and constitutional significance;
  • Lowering the age of consent for buggery for girls from 18 to 16 was not in the Government's manifesto. Neither was lowering the age for boys.
  • Lowering the age for the buggery of girls has never been debated by MPs.
  • Opinion polls repeatedly find around 70% of the public oppose the Government's plans.
  • This is a conscience issue, not a party political matter. Both Houses of Parliament have been allowed a free vote and have disagreed. The Government should not force it's view about an issue of conscience;
  • It would set an extremely dangerous precedent. If the Government can use the Parliament Acts on something as sensitive and contentious as this (without debate by MPs, in the case of girls) what is to stop it using them on something like gay 'marriage' and adoption, or human cloning?

Never before have the Parliament Acts been used on an issue like this. It is not like the War Crimes Bill. There, the morality of War Crimes was not in dispute. The issue was to do with the length of time which could pass before a trial took place. On the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill there is no such agreement on the central moral issue.

When the Parliament Acts have been used:

1. The Government of Ireland Act 1914
2. Welsh Church Act 1914
3. Parliament Act 1949
4. War Crimes Act 1991
5. European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999

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The Law of Buggery

The table below shows the current law concerning buggery for boys and girls in N Ireland, Scotland, England & Wales. It also looks at the situation as it would be under the Bill and as it would be following the Lords' amendments.

  Girls Boys
Now
       
N Ireland
illegal
18
 
 
Scotland
effectively 16
18
 
 
England & Wales
18
18
 
 
 
 
The Bill
N Ireland
illegal
17
 
 
Scotland
effectively 16
16
 
 
England & Wales
16
16
 
 
 
 
House of Lords Amendments
N Ireland
illegal
18
 
 
Scotland
18
18
 
 
England & Wales
18
18
 
 

The House of Lords' amendments do not affect the Government's proposals to allow homosexual acts (other than buggery) at 16.

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Anal intercourse is extremely dangerous

Physical damage ("trauma") and infection

"The shape of the bowel is not intended for the purpose of sexual intercourse. The muscle of the anal sphincter has to be forced open. The lining of the bowel is a single cell layer. As a result there is trauma and tearing. The semen action damages the bowel lining and the consequence is easy entrance of bacteria and viruses." (1)
Dr M E Duncan, MD(Hons), FRCSE, FRCOG

Dr Jeffrey Satinover says: "anal intercourse, penile or otherwise, traumatizes the soft tissues of the rectal lining. These tissues... are nowhere near as sturdy as vaginal tissue. As a consequence, the lining of the rectum is almost always traumatized to some degree by any act of anal intercourse. Even in the absence of major trauma, minor or microscopic tears in the rectal lining allow for immediate contamination and the entry of germs into the bloodstream."(2)

"Furthermore, comparable tears in the vagina are not only less frequent because of the relative toughness of the vaginal lining, but the environment of the vagina is vastly cleaner than that of the rectum. Indeed, we are designed with a nearly impenetrable barrier between the bloodstream and the extraordinarily toxic and infectious contents of the bowel. Anal intercourse creates a breach in this barrier for the receptive partner, whether or not the insertive partner is wearing a condom."(3)

The reason why it is possible for a person to "infect themselves" by their own bowel lining being torn is that bacteria reside in the gut. We need these bacteria for our digestion. Human faeces contains some of these bacteria. This causes no problems so long as the lining of the rectum is intact.

HIV

Sexual acts such as 'oral sex' or mutual masturbation are known to be a low risk for HIV. But the risk of HIV infection from anal intercourse is extremely high: for men it is at least 2,700 times the risk from vaginal intercourse. (4)

Dr M E Duncan has highlighted recent research which shows that semen can eat away at the cells in the lining of the lower bowel. This not only allows viruses such as HIV to infect the blood stream but also affects the bowel's ability to withdraw water from waste, causing diarrhoea.(5)

Anal sex is so dangerous for homosexual men that the UK Blood Transfusion Service will not accept blood from any man who has ever had sex with another man, even if it was 'safe sex' with a condom.(6)

Condoms

Even condom manufacturers advise against anal sex. The condom company, Durex, said in October 2000 : "Anal intercourse is a high-risk activity because of the potential for infection from STDs including HIV transmission. Currently, there are no specific standards for the manufacture of condoms for anal sex. Current medical advice is therefore to avoid anal sex. However, whenever this advice is not followed, the medical profession recommends that stronger condoms should be used although studies have shown that there is still a risk of breakage and slippage".(7)

Condoms do not offer adequate protection because condoms slip and break at an alarming rate during anal sex. One study calculated that 32% of condoms broke and 21% slipped during anal intercourse.(8) The researchers pointed out that "Condoms manufactured in the United States generally are labelled 'for vaginal use only'. This labelling reflects the concern that condoms designed for use during vaginal intercourse may fail at an unacceptably high rate when used during anal intercourse..."(9)

A condom only has to slip or break once for HIV to be transmitted.

Other facts about anal intercourse

  • Both homosexuals and heterosexuals engage in anal intercourse.
  • Anal intercourse between men and women was only legalised (for those aged over 18) in 1994.
  • One major study for the Department of Health found that the average age for first anal intercourse for homosexuals was 20.9 years (10) and that that 71% of homosexual men have engaged in anal intercourse in the past year.(11)
  • Some 6.5% of heterosexual men have engaged in anal intercourse in the past year according to the largest study ever carried out in the UK on sexual behaviour.(12)
  • This same study found that only 0.3% of men are exclusively homosexual.(13)
  • Whilst proportionately more homosexuals than heterosexuals engage in anal intercourse, in terms of numbers there are more heterosexuals than homosexuals who have ever had anal intercourse.

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References

1 Duncan, M E Anal Intercourse - The Medical Risks (unpublished paper, 2000)
2 Satinover J, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, Baker, 1997, page 67
3 Loc cit
4 Stewart G, Health Care Analysis, 1994, 2; 279-286. Professor Duncan has pointed out the clear implications of this study. Anal intercourse is uncommon amongst the heterosexual population, but usual amongst the homosexual population.
5 Duncan, M E Op cit
6 Do Not Give Blood Without Reading This Leaflet, The UK Blood Transfusion Services, Department of Health, December 1995
7 http://www.durex.com/scientific/faqs/faq_4.html#1 as at 29th October 2000
8 Silverman B G et al, Use and Effectiveness of Condoms During Anal Intercourse, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Vol. 24, No. 1, January 1997, page 14
9 Ibid page 11
10 Weatherburn P et al, The Sexual Lifestyles of Gay and Bisexual Men in England and Wales, HMSO, 1992, page 13
11 Ibid page 15
12 Johnson A M et al Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, Blackwell Scientific, 1994, page 164
13 Ibid page 209

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