UK
21/11/2013 07:46 GMT | Updated 21/11/2013 08:02 GMT

Peter Tatchell Calls For Age Of Consent To Be 14

Tatchell age of consent call
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Tatchell age of consent call

The age of consent should be lowered to 14, an equal rights campaigner has suggested.

Peter Tatchell hit out at the "depressing reaction" to a recent suggestion by a government adviser that sex at 15 should be allowed.

And he went further than Professor John Ashton had done, but suggesting it should be even younger.

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In a blog for The Huffington Post UK, he wrote: "Given that the average age of first sexual experience is 14, then an age of consent of 14 might be more realistic and reasonable than 16.

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"If sex at 14 is consensual, and no one is hurt or complains, is criminalisation in the public interest? Is it in the 14-year-old's interest?"

Ashton's call for a debate followed explosive claims by barrister Barbara Hewson that the age of consent should be 13.

Hewson was fiercely criticised when she said: "Some teenage girls are anything but wallflowers."

The government was swift to reject Ashton's suggestion on Sunday.

Tatchell wrote: "The government dismissed the idea out of hand, without any consideration or justification. Other ill-informed critics unfairly accused him of opening the door to child sex abuse.

"This depressing reaction shows, yet again, that a calm, rational, evidence-based discussion of the age of consent is almost impossible in the current feverish climate."

He also said it was "problematic" to have a single age of consent, suggesting a "tiered" age to cater for couples where both consent and are of a similar age, would be better.