OutRage! plans "Vigil for Equality" outside the Lords

      A huge candlelight "VIGIL FOR EQUALITY" is being organised by OutRage! outside Parliament from 6-10 p.m. on Tuesday, 13th April, when the House of Lords votes on the age of consent.

      With placards emblazoned with the words "Equalise Consent! Abolish the Lords!" and "Let Young Gays Love Their Peers", OutRage! is holding a peaceful, dignified protest to support equality. Stonewall have been invited to participate in the Vigil. Other gay groups and individuals are also urged to take part, and to bring candles.

      "A big turnout is important to show the Lords and the Government that the gay community will not settle for anything less than equal treatment", said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!.


      It is expected that peers, led by Baroness Young of Farnworth, will again veto 16, overturning MPs' recent 183 majority in favour of ending discrimination.

      "The unelected House of Lords has no democratic mandate to reverse January's 313 to 130 vote by elected MP's in favour of equality", said Tatchell. (Last July, the Lords voted 289 to 122 against equality.)

      "The way the Lords have ridden roughshod over the will of elected MP's highlights the democratic deficit in our parliamentary system. It demonstrates the urgency of replacing the Lords with an elected and accountable second chamber", added Tatchell.


      While supporting an equal age of consent, OutRage! opposes the clauses of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill which penalise abuse of trust. They fail to give young people adequate protection against sexual abuse and unjustifiably criminalise consenting relationships.

      OutRage! is calling on the Government and the House of Lords to scrap the criminalisation of consensual relations between adults and young people under 18 in their care. "Teachers and care workers should not be punished with up to two years' jail for a genuine, loving relationship", said Tatchell.

      OutRage! also wants the Bill amended to require all schools to provide earlier, better quality sex education which, it argues, is the key to combating abuse. "Current sex education does not teach pupils how to deal with sex pests and sexual harassment. Young people need to be empowered with the skill and confidence to resist unwanted sexual advances and to report abuse if it occurs", said Tatchell.




Contrast with Other Countries


      "Discrimination or violence because of race or religion, ancestry or gender, disability or sexual orientation, is wrong, and it ought to be illegal. Therefore, I ask Congress to make the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act the law of the land."

From President Bill Clinton's State of the Union address, 19-January-1999

South Africa

      Lesbians and gay men and their immigrant partners should be free to live together as family, the Cape High Court ruled, (12-February-1999).

      Judge Dennis Davis on behalf of a full bench stated that "The Constitution seeks to promote a society in which diversity of identity is respected and protected. The [Aliens Control Act] prefers certain forms of life partnership over others ... this cannot be justified."

      The Government has now been given 12 months to recognise our relationships by amending the Aliens Control Act.


Stonewall's AoC Campaign

Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill in Standing Committee E
Hansard: The Commons Debate, 25-January-1999
Hansard: The Commons Vote, 25-January-1999

Government Research Paper: The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill - Age of Consent and Abuse of a Position of Trust, 21-January-1999
Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, Wednesday, December 16, 1998
Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill -- Explanatory Notes, Wednesday, December 16, 1998

Stonewall: The Euan Sutherland and Christopher Morris cases
Jack Straw: The Euan Sutherland and Christopher Morris cases


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Last modified: 28-May-1999