New British sex offense law comes into effect
May 03, 2004
LONDON — New sex offense laws giving more protection to children and
creating a new offense of "grooming" came into effect in Britain on
In an overhaul of Britain's Victorian-era laws on sex offenses,
the new regulations also decriminalize certain sex acts between men
and toughen measures against rape.
"Until now our sex offenses laws were based on the Victorian era
– their values and the world they lived in," Home Secretary David
Blunkett said. "New laws offer increased protection, especially to
children and vulnerable people."
Blunkett has said the last major sex offense act, passed 47
years ago, was mostly a consolidation of 19th-century law.
The new act ends legal recognition of any consent for sex by
children under 13, meaning suspects would not be able to take
advantage of a loophole that now lets them be charged with a crime
less than rape by claiming a child gave consent.
It also creates a new offense of "grooming" or befriending
children for sexual exploitation which would apply to adults who
meet a child – in person or on the Internet – with the intention of
taking sexual advantage. Anyone convicted of the offense faces up
to 10 years in prison.
The package toughens laws against rape by requiring defendants
to prove in some circumstances that they took reasonable steps to
make sure their alleged victim consented to sex.
The measure, which is aimed at increasing the rape conviction
rate of 7 percent, means juries will be able to assume there was no
consent if an alleged rape victim was asleep or unconscious, or if
there was violence or threats involved.
The act also continues efforts begun in 1967 to repeal old laws
banning private, consensual sex between adult men, making gay and
straight sex subject to the same laws and strengthening statues
against public sex. – Sapa-AP
UK unveils "gay marriages" plan [01/07/2003]