The Scottish Government has backed off on plans to legalise oral sex for under-16s but critics are concerned that other sexual activity, like groping, will be allowed.
Under current plans to overhaul Scotland’s age of consent laws, measures contained in the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Bill would legalise masturbation or groping by one child on another for children as young as 13.
The Scottish Government had originally proposed to legalise all sexual activity short of full sexual intercourse for 13 to 15-year-olds.
However, following recommendations by the Justice Committee, the Government has agreed to dump plans to make oral sex legal for under-16s.
The Justice Committee said changing the law would send out the message that such activity is socially acceptable and risk free.
But the Committee did not address the area of groping and campaigners are urging the Scottish Government to review the issue.
Colin Hart, Director of the Christian Institute, said: “We welcome the fact that the Government will keep oral sex between under-16s illegal.
“However, we remain concerned at plans to legalise non penetrative sexual activity such as masturbation or groping between children. We believe this should remain an offence under the age of consent law, as it is now.”
Mr Hart warned that “weakening the age of consent law on this matter not only sends out the wrong message, but it also removes a key aspect of the law which gives appropriate authorities the discretion to act when such activities may be exploitative”.
Noting a Panorama investigation into sexual bullying in schools, he pointed out that unwanted groping between children is a live issue and urged the Government to think again before weakening the age of consent law in this area.
He added: “We all know that proving a lack of consent can be notoriously difficult in sexual abuse cases. In such instances the age of consent offence has shown itself to be a very useful child protection measure.
“The Government appears to have noted this in regard to oral sex and we believe it is just as important regarding non penetrative sexual activity.”