By Steve Jalsevac
BELFAST, Northern Ireland, November 20, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com)– The Associated Press reports today that the age of sexual consent in Northern Ireland will be lowered to 16 from the current 17 by the British government. The stated intent is to bring the Irish age in line with that in the rest of the United Kingdom. The new age will also now match Ireland’s current legal marriage age of 16.
Britain’s criminal justice minister in Northern Ireland, Paul Goggins, has stated there will be a two month consultation in Northern Ireland after which a bill modernizing sexual offenses laws would be passed in 2008.
Gregory Carlin of the Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition has expressed serious concern about the age change in light of recent trends in the UK. He notes that the bill which proposes to make the age change may also be used to legalize brothel-keeping which in turn could place vulnerable youth in greater danger of being pushed into prostitution.
Carlin also criticizes the fact that the legislation is being imposed on Ireland by the British government. He stated to LifeSiteNews, “This is direct rule legislation which has by-passed the Northern Ireland Assembly, it is undemocratic.”
The age of consent for male-female sex varies from 14 to 18 in most nations of the world with a small number permitting it at age 13 and a tiny number allowing it as low as age 12.