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Age of consent reform refers to efforts to change age of consent laws, whether to raise or lower or abolish the age of consent, or to change the ways in which the laws are applied. These efforts vary greatly in intensity and popularity, and have manifested in a variety of forms, such as legislation for close-in-age exemptions to age of consent laws, advocacy to change the way age of consent laws are examined in court, to lower or increase the age limits, and increase or reduce related penalties. Some organized efforts have occurred ranging from academic discussions to political petitions and paedophile advocacy groups.

Close-in-age exemptions

These are frequently called Romeo and Juliet exemptions.[1]

Initiatives to raise ages of consent

Examples of legislative initiatives to raise the age of consent that have been considered or enacted include those in Georgia (USA)[2] and in Canada.[3][4]

Kerala, India

In January 2004, a Division bench of the Kerala's High Court in Southern India suggested that the age of consent should be raised from 16 to 18 in that state. Justice R. Basant said he considered "illogic(al)" that a legal system in which an age of 18 is used for other purposes – like the Indian Majority Act, the Contract Act, the Juvenile Justice Act, the Child Marriage Restraint Act and the Representation of People Act – has a different approach in the case of sexual consent.[5]

Georgia, USA

Template:Update In June 2005, a bill was proposed before the General Assembly of Georgia (USA) to raise the age of consent from 16 to 18.[6] The proposal is still being discussed by local politicians.[7]


In June 2006, the Canadian government proposed a bill to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16 (in 1890 it was raised from 12 to 14), while creating a near-age exemption for sex between 14-15 year olds and partners up to 5 years older, and keeping an existing near-age clause for sex between 12-13 year olds and partners up to 2 years older. The initiative also maintains a temporary exception for already existing marriages of 14 and 15 year olds, but forbids new marriages like these in the future.[8] The law took effect 1 May 2008.

Initiatives to lower or abolish ages of consent

Changes enacted into law


The age of consent in Peru was increased from 14 to 18 in 2006 as elections approached, but in 2007, Peru's new Congress voted to return the age to 14 regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation.[9] However, after strong public opposition, this law was repealed on June 27, 2007, by a vote of 74 to zero (22 abstentions).[10]

Past proposed changes that did not succeed

The Netherlands

In 1979, the now-defunct Dutch Pacifist Socialist Party supported an unsuccessful petition to lower the age of consent to 12.[11]


In 1977 while a reform in the French penal code was under discussion in the parliament, a petition to decriminalize of all consented relations between adults and minors below the age of fifteen was sent to Parliament but did not succeed in changing the law.[12] In 1978 the petition was discussed in a broadcast by radio France Culture in the program "Dialogues", with the transcript later published under the title Sexual Morality and the Law in a book by Michel Foucault. The participants, including Foucault, play-writer/actor Jean Danet and novelist/gay activist Guy Hocquenghem had all signed the petition.

United Kingdom

According to sociologist Matthew Waites, in the 1970s, a number of grass-roots political actions took place in Britain in favor of lowering the age of consent, that he described as based on claims of children's rights, gay liberation, or, as a way to avoid unwanted pregnancies or sexually-transmitted diseases.[13]

In May 1974, the Campaign for Homosexual Equality suggested a basic age of consent of 16, but 12 "in cases where a defendant could prove the existence of meaningful consent".[14][15] In September 1974, the Sexual Law Reform Society proposed lowering the age of consent to 14, with the requirement that below the age of 18 the burden of proof that consent for sexual activities between the parties existed would be the responsibility of the older participant.[16]

In 1976, the British political pressure group Liberty published a proposal advocating reducing the age of consent laws to 10 years of age, only when both individuals are younger than 14, with a close-in-age exemption of two years if one of the involved individuals is older than 14 but younger than 16.[17]

The modern Communist Party of Great Britain lists abolition of age-of-consent laws among its immediate demands, with the added provision that there be alternate legal methods to protect children from sexual abuse.[18]

Paedophile advocacy groups

During the late 1950s to early 1990s, several paedophile membership organisations advocated lowering or abolishing age of consent laws[19][20][21][22] to legalize sexual activities involving an adult and a child (something often considered as child sexual abuse[23][24]). As one of their arguments to lower or abolish the age of consent, members of paedophile advocacy groups promoted their belief that children are psychologically capable of consenting to sexual interactions with adults[25] (although this opinion is contrary to legal and scientific consensus [26][27]), and they often portrayed themselves as fighting for the right of children to engage in what the activists consider to be consensual sex with adults.[22][25] Some activists tried to link their goals with those of the early LGBT social movements, but in the course of time those movements universally rejected this linkage.[19][28][29][30]

The age of consent reform efforts of paedophile advocacy groups such as the Danish Pedophile Association and the North American Man/Boy Love Association did not gain any public support[19][22][28][31][32] and today those groups that have not dissolved have only minimal membership and have ceased their activities other than through a few websites.[22][32][33][34] Beginning in the 1990s, public focus on and disapproval of paedophilia resulted in more stringent legislation and stronger criminal penalties regarding child pornography, child sexual abuse, and use of the internet to facilitate these offenses.[35][36][37]

See also


  1. Winchin Chala (7 October 2007). "'Sex is beautiful, sex is fun,' at age 12, 14, 16: The age of consent". The Examiner.
  2. hb722.html
  3. "Canada's Conservatives Seek to Raise Age of Consent to 16". Fox News. 23 June 2006.,2933,200691,00.html?sPage=specialsections.foxnews/lawcenter.
  4. | Mixed reviews to Tories' sexual consent bill
  5. Asian Sex Gazette - Kerala, Raise age-limit for giving consent for sexual intercourse to 18 - South Asia
  6. The House Bill #722 was presented by Representatives Forster (3rd District), Rice (51st District), Cooper (41st District), Randall (138th) and Walker (107th), among others. See
  8. | Age of Consent FAQ
  9. "Peru Lowers Age Of Consent To 14". CBS News. 22 June 2007. Retrieved 28-Jan-2010.
  10. "Pleno Reconsidero Exoneracion de Sedunda Votacion a Proyecto Sobre Libertad Sexual [House Reconsidered and Excluded Second Vote for Project on Sexual Freedom]" (in Spanish). El Heraldo. 2007-06-27. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
  11. Brongersma, Edward (1988). "Schutzalter 12 Jahre? - Sex mit Kindern in der niederländischen Gesetzgebung ("Age of Consent 12 years? Dutch legislation on sex with children")", in Leopardi, Angelo: Der pädosexuelle Komplex ("On the topic of pedosexuality") (in German). Frankfurt/Main, Germany: Foerster Verlag, 214. ISBN 3-922257-66-6.
  12. Foucault, Michel. Politics, Philosophy, Culture –Interviews and Other Writings 1977-1984. Edited by Lawrence D. Krizman. New York / London: 1988, Routledge, Pp. 272-273.
  13. Waites, Matthew. The Age of Consent – Young People, Sexuality and Citizenship (2005), pp 122, 132-133, 220).
  14. WAITES, Matthew (2005, op.cit., pp. 132 and 243, Note 6.6)
  15. Gay News, no. 46, 9 May 1974, p.3 – 'CHE Report angers reformers'.
  16. WAITES, Matthew (2005, op.cit., p.132).
  17. Waites, Matthew (2005, p.135-136). The age of consent – Young people, Sexuality and Citizenship. New York/London: Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 978-1-4039-2173-4. ISBN 1-4039-2173-3.
  18. Third programme of the Communist Party of Great Britain
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Jenkins, Philip (2006). Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America. Oxford University Press. pp. 120. ISBN 0-19-517866-1.
  20. Spiegel, Josef (2003). Sexual Abuse of Males: The Sam Model of Theory and Practice. Routledge. pp. 5, p9. ISBN 1-56032-403-1.
  21. "The Case for Abolishing the Age of Consent Laws," an editorial from NAMBLA News (1980), reproduced in We Are Everywhere: A Historical Sourcebook of Gay and Lesbian Politics. Ed. by Mark Blasius and Shane Phelan. London: Routledge, 1997. pgs. 459-67.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Eichewald, Kurt (August 21, 2006). "From Their Own Online World, Pedophiles Extend Their Reach". New York Times.
  23. Levesque, Roger J. R. (1999). Sexual Abuse of Children: A Human Rights Perspective. Indiana University Press. pp. 1,5–6,176–180.
  24. "United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child". Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 1989.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Dallam, S. J. (2002). "Science or Propaganda? An examination of Rind, Tromovitch and Bauserman (1998)". Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 9 (3/4), 109-134
  26. Finkelhor, David (1993). A Sourcebook on Child Sexual Abuse. SAGE. p. 26. ISBN 0803927495.
  27. Kinnear, Karen (2007). Childhood Sexual Abuse: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO. p. 3. ISBN 1851099050.
  28. 28.0 28.1 Jenkins, Philip (1992). Intimate Enemies: Moral Panics in Contemporary Great Britain. Aldine Transaction. pp. 75. ISBN 0-202-30436-1.
  29. Harris Mirkin (1999). "The Pattern of Sexual Politics: Feminism, Homosexuality and Pedophilia". J.Homosex 37 (2).
  30. Heinze, Eric (1995). Sexual Orientation: A Human Right : An Essay on International Human Rights Law. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 150–1. ISBN 0-7923-3018-8.
  31. Stanton, Domna C. (1992). Discourses of Sexuality: From Aristotle to AIDS. University of Michigan Press. pp. 405. ISBN 0-472-06513-0.
  32. 32.0 32.1 Hagan, Domna C.; Marvin B. Sussman (1988). Deviance and the family. Haworth Press. pp. 131. ISBN 0-86656-726-7.
  33. Benoit Denizet-Lewis (2001). "Boy Crazy," Boston Magazine.
  34. Trembaly, Pierre. (2002) "Social interactions among paedophiles."
  35. Mattei, Monique; Ferraro, Eoghan Casey, Michael McGrath (2004). Investigating Child Exploitation and Pornography: The Internet, Law and Pornography. Academic Press. pp. 7–8,112–113. ISBN 0-12-163105-2.
  36. Bocij, Paul (2004). Cyberstalking: Harassment in the Internet Age and How to Protect Your Family. Greenwood Publishing. pp. 160–176. ISBN 0-275-98118-5.
  37. Clark, Mathew D. (2002). Obscenity, Child Pornography and Indecency. pp. 74–76. ISBN 1-59033-396-9.

ca:Moviment activista pedòfil da:Drengeelsker de:Pädophilenbewegung es:Movimiento activista pedófilo fr:Militantisme pédophile ja:少女愛運動 pt:Ativismo pró-pedofilia fi:Pedofiliaan liittyvä aktivismi

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