The Children’s Commissioner in Scotland, Kathleen Marshall, has faced criticism for backing Scottish Law Commission proposals to legalise sex between 13 to 15 year olds.
Responding to a Government consultation on sexual offences, the Commissioner argued that while children ought to be protected from the sexual advances of adults, sexual activity between ‘consenting’ 13 to 15 year-olds should not be illegal.
“It is right to recognise the general vulnerability of 13 to 16-year-olds by maintaining the general prohibition on sexual activity, backed by the weight of the law,” she said. “But I also welcome proposals to take a different approach to consensual activity between young people.”
Christian groups and other campaigners have criticised the proposals. Rape Crisis Scotland says it is “concerned that the proposed changes might potentially reduce the extent to which young people are protected and limit options for prosecutors”.
The age of consent in England, Scotland and Wales is 16. It was raised from 13 in 1885 following years of campaigning by evangelical social reformer Josephine Butler.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said: “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.
“The Children’s Commissioner seems to want to put the clock back to 1884, when the age of consent was 13.”
The Scottish Government is currently considering responses to the consultation.