Marriage and the family

Scottish Government consults on
legalising sex between 13-year-olds

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

A consultation on whether teenagers as young as 13 should be allowed to have sex is being run by the Scottish Government.

The consultation into sexual offences asks whether the law should be changed so that it would be legal for a teenager to have sex with another teenager, providing there is a two-year age gap or less.

The consultation, which ends on Friday, 14 March, is a response to a Scottish Law Commission report published in December 2007.

Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said: "The age of consent law is an important child-protection measure. It was introduced following a Christian campaign against Victorian scandals where children were being sold into sex slavery.

"It was notoriously difficult to secure convictions because cases often relied on a terrified child testifying in open court that they had not consented to sex.

"If the law is changed in the way which is currently being consulted on, a strong 15-year-old boy could force himself on his 13-year-old girlfriend who may not want sex. If she wishes to press charges for sexual assault, she must prove that she did not consent. This is notoriously difficult, especially for a traumatised 13-year-old girl being questioned by a clever defence lawyer.

"The law sends out a strong signal about what age is appropriate for sexual activity. Relaxing the law in this area will inevitably be interpreted as official sanction for teenage sex. Scotland has poor sexual health with a rising incidence of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, and some of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe.

"This is not the time to be giving the green light to teenage sex. Sex is not a recreational activity for kids. We should be giving our children some moral guidance, helping them to say no to underage sex. The law has its role to play in that message."

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