House of Lords portcullis
House of Lords
Session 1999-2000
Internet Publications
Other Bills before Parliament
Arrangement of Clauses (Contents)

Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill
 
 

 
 
A

B I L L

[AS AMENDED IN COMMITTEE]

TO

Reduce the age at which, and to make provision with respect to the circumstances in which, certain sexual acts are lawful; to make it an offence for a person aged 18 or over to engage in sexual activity with or directed towards a person under that age if he is in a position of trust in relation to that person; and for connected purposes.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-
 

Reduction in age at which certain sexual acts are lawful.     1. - (1) In the Sexual Offences Act 1956, in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) of paragraph 16 (indecency between men etc.) of Schedule 2 (punishments etc.), for the word "eighteen" there shall be substituted the word "sixteen".
 
      (2) In the Sexual Offences Act 1967-
 
 
    (a) in subsection (1) of section 1 (amendment of law relating to homosexual acts in private), for the words "a homosexual act" there shall be substituted the words "an act of buggery in private with another man or commission of an act of buggery";
 
    (b) after subsection (1), there shall be inserted-
 
    "(1A) Notwithstanding any statutory or common law provision, an act of gross indecency in private with another man or commission of an act of gross indecency shall not be an offence provided that the parties consent thereto and have attained the age of sixteen years.";
 
 
    (c) in subsection (3), after the words "subsection (1)" insert "or (1A)";
 
    (d) in place of subsection (6), there shall be substituted-
 
    "(6) It is hereby declared that where in any proceedings it is charged that-
 
 
    (a) an act of buggery with another man or being party to the commission of such an act is an offence the prosecutor shall have the burden of proving that the act was done otherwise than in private or otherwise than with the consent of the parties or that any of the parties had not attained the age of eighteen years;
 
    (b) an act of gross indecency with another man or being party to the commission of such an act is an offence the prosecutor shall have the burden of proving that the act was done otherwise than in private or otherwise than with the consent of the parties or that any of the parties had not attained the age of sixteen years."; and
 
    (e) in section 8 (restriction on prosecutions), for the words "against any man" to the end of section there shall be substituted-
 
    "(a) for the offence of buggery with another man, for attempting to commit an act of buggery, or for aiding, abetting, counselling, procuring or commanding its commission where either of those men was at the time if its commission under the age of eighteen;
 
    (b) for the offence of gross indecency with another man, for attempting to commit an act of gross indecency, or for aiding, abetting, counselling, procuring or commanding its commission where either of those men was at the time if its commission under the age of sixteen.".
      (3) In section 13 of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 (homosexual offences)-
 
 
    (a) in subsection (1) for the words "a homosexual act" there shall be substituted "an act of sodomy in private by one male person with another male person or commission of an act of sodomy";
 
    (b) after subsection (1), there shall be inserted-
 
    "(1A) Subject to the provisions of this section, an act of gross indecency in private or shameless indecency in private by one male person with another male person or commission of such an act shall not be an offence provided that the parties consent thereto and have attained the age of sixteen years.";
 
 
    (c) in subsection (3), after the words "subsection (1)" insert "or (1A)";
 
    (d) in subsections (5) and (8), for the words "a homosexual act" there shall be substituted "an act of sodomy by one male person with another male person";
 
    (e) after subsection (5), there shall be inserted-
 
    "(5A) Subject to subsection (3) above, it shall be an offence to commit or to be party to the commission of, or to procure or attempt to procure the commission of an act of gross indecency or shameless indecency by one male person with another male person-
 
 
    (a) otherwise than in private;
 
    (b) without the consent of both parties to the act; or
 
    (c) with a person under the age of sixteen years."; and
 
    (f) after subsection (8), there shall be inserted-
 
    "(8A) It shall be a defence to a charge of committing or to being party to the commission of, or to procuring or attempting to procure the commission of an act of gross indecency or shameless indecency by one male person with another male person under subsection (5A)(c) above that the person so charged being under the age of 24 who had not previously been charged with a like offence, had reasonable cause to believe that the other person was of or over the age of 16 years.".
 
      (4) In Article 3 of the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982 (homosexual acts in private)-
 
 
    (a) in paragraph (1), for the words "a homosexual act in private" there shall be substituted "an act of buggery in private by a man with another man or commission of an act of buggery in private by a man with another man";
 
    (b) after paragraph (1), there shall be inserted-
 
    "(1A) Subject to Article 123 of the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986, and notwithstanding any other statutory provision or any rule of law, an act of gross indecency in private with another man or commission of an act of gross indecency with another man shall not be an offence provided that the parties consent thereto and have attained the age of 17 years.";
 
 
    (c) in paragraph (3), after the words "paragraph (1)" insert "or (1A)"; and
 
    (d) in paragraph (5), for the words "a homosexual act" to the end there shall be substituted-
 
    "(a) an act of buggery by a man with another man or being party to the commission of such an act is an offence the prosecutor shall have the burden of proving that the act was done otherwise than in private or otherwise than with the consent of the parties or that any of the parties had not attained the age of 18 years;
 
    (b) an act of gross indecency with another man or being party to the commission of such an act is an offence the prosecutor shall have the burden of proving that the act was done otherwise than in private or otherwise than with the consent of the parties or that any of the parties had not attained the age of 17 years.".
      (5) Section 145 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (which is superseded by this section) is hereby repealed.
 
Sodomy: Scotland.     2. In the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995, after section 13 there shall be inserted-
 
 
"Sodomy with a member of the opposite sex.     13A. - (1) Subject to subsection (3) below, it shall be an offence to commit or to be party to the commission of, or to procure or attempt to procure the commission of an act of sodomy with a member of the opposite sex-
 
    (a) otherwise than in private;
 
    (b) without the consent of both parties to the act; or
 
    (c) with a person under the age of eighteen years.
      (2) A person under the age of eighteen does not commit an offence under subsection (1) above if he or she commits, or is party to the commission of, an act of sodomy with a person who has attained that age.
 
      (3) A person who is suffering from mental deficiency which is of such a nature or degree that he or she is incapable of living an independent life or of guarding himself or herself against serious exploitation cannot in law give any consent which, by virtue of subsection (1) above, would prevent an act of sodomy from being an offence; but a person shall not be convicted on account of the incapacity of such a person to consent, of an offence consisting of such an act if he or she proves that he or she did not know and had no reason to suspect that person to be suffering from such mental deficiency.
 
      (4) A person who commits or is party to the commission of an offence under subsection (1) above shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to a fine or to both and on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months, or to a fine not exceeding the prescribed sum (within the meaning of section 225(8) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995).
 
      (5) It shall be a defence to a charge of committing or to being a party to the commission of, or to procuring or attempting to procure the commission of an act of sodomy under subsection (1) above that the person so charged being under the age of 24 years who had not previously been charged with a like offence, had reasonable cause to believe that the other person was of or over the age of 18 years.".
 
Defences available to persons who are under age.     3. - (1) In section 12 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956-
 
 
    (a) in subsection (1), after the words "subsection (1A)" there shall be inserted the words "or (1AA)";
 
    (b) in subsection (1A), after the word "circumstances" there shall be inserted the word "first"; and
 
    (c) after that subsection there shall be inserted the following subsection-
 
    "(1AA) The other circumstances so referred to are that the person is under the age of eighteen and the other person has attained that age.".
 
      (2) In section 13 of that Act (indecency between men)-
 
 
    (a) after the words "another man", in the first place where they occur, there shall be inserted the words "otherwise than in the circumstances described below"; and
 
    (b) at the end there shall be inserted the following paragraph-
 
  " The circumstances referred to above are that the man is under the age of sixteen and the other man has attained that age.".
 
      (3) In subsection (1) of section 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 1967-
 
 
    (a) the words from "an act of buggery in private with another man" to the end shall become paragraph (a); and
 
    (b) after that paragraph there shall be inserted the words "and
 
    (b) an act of buggery with another man or commission of an act of buggery by any person shall not be an offence if he is under the age of eighteen years and the other party has attained that age.".
      (4) In subsection (1A) of section 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 (as inserted by section 1)-
 
 
    (a) the words from "an act of gross indecency" to the end shall become paragraph (a); and
 
    (b) after that paragraph there shall be inserted the words, "and
 
    (b) an act of gross indecency with another man or commission of an act of gross indecency by any person shall not be an offence if he is under the age of sixteen and the other party has attained that age.".
      (5) In section 13 of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995, after subsection (8) there shall be inserted the following subsections-
 
 
    "(8B) A person under the age of eighteen years does not commit an offence under subsection (5)(a) or (c) above if he commits or is party to the commission of an act of sodomy with a person who has attained that age.
 
      (8C) A person under the age of sixteen years does not commit an offence under subsection (5A)(a) or (c) above if he commits or is party to the commission of an act of gross indecency or shameless indecency with a person who has attained that age.".
 
      (6) In paragraph (1) of Article 3 of the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982-
 
 
    (a) the words from "an act of buggery in private by a man with another man" to the end shall become sub-paragraph (a); and
 
    (b) after that sub-paragraph there shall be inserted the words "and
 
    (b) an act of buggery by a man with another man or commission of an act of buggery by a man with another man shall not be an offence if he is under the age of eighteen years and the other party has attained that age.".
      (7) In paragraph (1A) of Article 3 of the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982 (as inserted by section 1)-
 
 
    (a) the words from "an act of gross indecency" to the end shall become paragraph (a); and
 
    (b) after that paragraph there shall be inserted the words "and
 
    (b) an act of gross indecency or commission of an act of gross indecency by any person shall not be an offence if he is under the age of seventeen and the other party has attained that age.".
Abuse of position of trust.     4. - (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3) below, it shall be an offence for a person aged 18 or over-
 
 
    (a) to have sexual intercourse (whether vaginal or anal) with a person under that age; or
 
    (b) to engage in any other sexual activity with or directed towards such a person, including preparing such a person to engage in sexual activity with him at a later stage,
       if (in either case) he is in a position of trust in relation to that person.
 
      (2) Where a person ("A") is charged with an offence under this section of having sexual intercourse with, or engaging in any other sexual activity with or directed towards, another person ("B"), it shall be a defence for A to prove that, at the time of the intercourse or activity-
 
 
    (a) he did not know, and could not reasonably have been expected to know, that B was under 18;
 
    (b) he did not know, and could not reasonably have been expected to know, that B was a person in relation to whom he was in a position of trust; or
 
    (c) he was lawfully married to B.
      (3) It shall not be an offence under this section for a person ("A") to have sexual intercourse with, or engage in any other sexual activity with or directed towards, another person ("B") if immediately before the commencement of this Act-
 
 
    (a) A was in a position of trust in relation to B; and
 
    (b) a sexual relationship existed between them.
      (4) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable-
 
 
    (a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both;
 
    (b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to a fine, or to both.
      (5) In this section "sexual activity"-
 
 
    (a) does not include any activity which a reasonable person would regard as sexual only with knowledge of the intentions, motives or feelings of the parties; but
 
    (b) subject to that, means any activity which such a person would regard as sexual in all the circumstances.
 
previous section contents continue
 
House of Lords home page Houses of Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2000
Prepared 15 November 2000