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.
"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.