LGBT+ History: Age of Consent

1994: The UK House of Commons, led by MP Edwina Currie, moves to reduce the age of consent for same-sex relations between men to 16. The vote is defeated and the age of consent is instead lowered to 18. An age of consent for same-sex relations between women is not set.

The age of consent had a bit of a chequered history over the years.  The Home Office recommended an age of consent of 21 but it was Harold Wilsons government in 1967 when it finally happened.  Later in 1979 the Home office again recommended that it should drop to age 18 because that was the point when “society deems a young man to be an adult and responsible”.  Nothing ever happened at that time.

It was when Edwina Currie brought forward her amendment to the bill to lower the consent to 16, with the support of the opposition that the compromise age of 18 was finally settled on.

The age of consent did not settle at 18 for long after the European Courts got involved in 1996 starting a further round of rows.

For a more in depth article about the changes over the years the BBC have done a good write up here.

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