The Government's abuse of trust clause in the new age of consent Bill is "inadequate, misguided and oppressive", says OutRage!.
"It fails to give young people sufficient protection against sexual abuse and unjustifiably criminalises consenting and loving relationships", according to OutRage! spokesperson, Peter Tatchell.
OutRage! is calling on the Government and the House of Lords to amend the Bill to require all schools to provide earlier, better quality sex education which, it argues, is the key to combating sex abuse.
"The age of consent Bill does not go far enough to protect teenagers against sexual exploitation", said Tatchell.
"We want the Bill amended to require sehools to provide improved sex education. Young people need to be empowered with the skills and confidence to resist unwanted sexual advances and to report abuse if it occurs.
"Current sex education fails to address abuse issues in an upfront, honest way. Pupils are not taught what to do if they are pestered for sex by a parent, teacher or care worker. They don't get information about how to deal with sexual harassment.
"All the evidence shows that young people who are equipped with the ability and assuredness to say 'no' to unwanted sex are much more likely to rebuff and report would-be abusers.
"If the Government and the House of Lords are serious about safeguarding teenagers against sexual manipulation, they should amend the age of consent Bill to ensure that school sex education lessons promote young people's sexual rights, which include the right to reject sex they don't want."
OutRage! is highly critical of the Government's new abuse of trust law.
"The abuse of trust legislation concentrates on penalising abuse after it has happened. Our emphasis on improved sex education would help stop abuse happening in the first place", said Tatchell.
"OutRage! opposes the way the abuse of trust clause criminalises consenting sex. Sexual relations between a young person and an adult in a position of authority over them are inappropriate, but they should be subject to discipline under professional codes of conduct, not criminalisation.
"We don't believe that teachers and care workers should be punished
by up to two years' jail for a sincere, loving relationship", said Tatchell.
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
Queen's Speech -- Age of Consent, Tuesday, November 24, 1998 -- BBC
Hansard: The Lords Debate, 22-July-1998
Hansard: The Lords Vote, 22-July-1998
Hansard: The Commons Debate, 22-June-1998
Hansard: The Commons Vote, 22-June-1998
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