Page last updated at 12:11 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Ministers consider sex law change

Young couple
MSPs want to avoid criminalising activities such as kissing

Ministers are to consider making it illegal for teenagers under the age of 16 to have oral sex as part of a shake-up of laws on sexual offences.

The Sexual Offences Bill will make it an offence for girls aged 13-15 to have sex. Boys can already be prosecuted.

But MSPs on the justice committee expressed concern that oral sex was not covered by the legislation.

The government said it would consider the issue, while trying to avoid making activities such as kissing illegal.

The legislation, which still needs the approval of the full parliament before becoming law, primarily aims to define rape more clearly and include the offence of "date rape".

It also sets out the law on underage sex, stipulating that it applies to girls as well as boys.

'Wrong message'

A report by the Holyrood committee said the failure to include oral sex could send out a wrong message that society considered such activities to be "acceptable and risk free."

It urged ministers to reconsider the issue, stating that the government had not provided "sufficient justification for treating oral sex differently".

But the MSPs also stressed that in reconsidering the matter the "government must ensure that normal teenage consensual activities such as kissing are not made criminal".

Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill said the committee's concerns would be considered.

In a letter to the committee convener Bill Aitken, Mr MacAskill said the government had drafted the legislation so it would ensure that "consensual sexual intercourse between 13 to 15-year-olds would continue to be unlawful".

And he explained this was because this behaviour "carries the greatest risk of adverse consequences, including sexually transmitted infection and unintended pregnancy".

Mr MacAskill added: "However, we note the committee's recommendation, and the concerns of a number of those who have given evidence on the bill.

"We will therefore consider this issue (including avoiding criminalising activities such as kissing) before bring forward amendments at stage two."

Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Sex law supported despite worries
16 Jan 09 |  Scotland
Attitudes to rape 'need change'
25 Nov 08 |  Scotland
Consult children on sex law call
11 Nov 08 |  Scotland
Delay urged on teenage sex reform
02 Oct 08 |  Scotland

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific